In theaters this week from director Jason Zada and Sony Pictures comes a tale of rustling leaves and side trails that lead deep into “The Forest.”
Sara (Natalie Dormer) is a young woman living with boyfriend Rob (Eoin Macken) and worried about her twin sister Jess (Natalie Dormer). This isn’t new for Sara as she has always been worried about her and knows when something is wrong.
Jess is a girl’s school teacher in Japan. When Sara receives a call from the local authorities that Jess has been reported missing, Sara gets on the first plane to help in the search.
When she arrives, Sara immediately goes to the school to hear from a student about their fears of Jess going into the forest. Her plan is to go to the forest and find Jess herself. Arriving in town she meets Aiden (Taylor Kinney), a travel guide writer who wants to do a story on Sara’s search.
Getting the okay from his guide Michi (Yukiyoshi Ozawa), Aiden brings Sara into the forest in the hopes of finding a trace of Jess. Sara hears from Michi about the history of the forest and it is when they find a victim does she begin to see the power of the forest and its history. During the walk they find Jess’ tent and Sara refuses to leave. Aiden agrees to stay and Michi hesitantly agrees with the promise to return in the morning.
In the night Sara begins a terrifying journey into the past with her sister that could possibly close in on both the sisters and claim them in the name of the forest!
Dormer as Sara really confused me as a character. I wanted to much to get into Sara’s plight but it became all to clear very early that Sara has issues and her reaction to what is going on around her makes me want to give her a paddle — to make it easier to get down the river of denial! I seriously became pissed off because Dormer is such an awesome actress and this role just doesn’t do her a smack dang bit of justice. Run back to Westeros young Margaery Tyrell where there is true horror and things to be scared of…see you in April!
Kinney as Aiden just didn’t get a chance to develop his character. The chemistry between the two characters is there but it never quite evolves into much before everything just becomes — weary to watch. Ozawa as Michi has a clue about what would happen if Sara and Aiden stayed in the forest yet — HE LEAVES THEM THERE! Remind me not to hire that guy if I decide to hang out in a suicidal forest!
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “The Forest” two and a half tubs of popcorn out of five and the 1/2 is a bonus because I really like Natalie Dormer. I won’t hold back in saying that I really was hoping for the best in this predictable horror film that does tax the main characters intelligence. I was slapping my head more times in the first half hour and had to stop before I bruised myself. Seriously, the story is a hot mess but the cinematography was pretty cool.
The young lady sitting next to me and I spent most of the movie with our jaws dropped looking at one another whispering, “are you serious?” or “did you see that?” or (my favorite) “that’s just b.s. right there”. The only thing we were truly interested in was discovering who made her cell phone because if I used the flashlight on my phone the battery would be dead in fifteen minutes. Sara’s cell phone battery is stunning so if anyone figures out who made her phone email me will you because I’m on that!
So for a little F.Y.I. and in case your ever have a horror trivia party, there really is a place called Aokigahara. Called the Suicide Forest (also Sea of Trees) it is at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan. In Japanese mythology the forest has stories of demons and because of those stories is known as a suicide site. So the next time you are in Japan and at the north-west face of Mount Fuji — don’t go into the forest. This is my public service message for the week.
In the end — everyone comes looking for a way out!