by: S. Scott Stanikmas – Senior Staff Writer
The first month of the new year is usually reserved for films that studios don’t have too much faith in. These are the films that will be handily beaten during the Summer Blockbuster season and looked over for more cerebral fare during the end-of-the-year Award Season offerings.
The Forest is one of these films, with a shaky plot and sub-par scares that equal yet another horror movie that has interesting ideas yet fails to follow through and do something inventive with them.
Sara Price (Natalie Dormer, in a dual role as twin sisters) senses that something is wrong with her sister Jess. She can’t quite put her finger on it but she just knows something is amiss. So she does what any sane person would do – flies out unannounced to see her sister, who just happens to live in Japan.
Leaving behind her husband (and a job that must be extremely understanding of such things), Sara finds out that her sister set off for Aokigahara Forest at the base of Mt. Fuji. This forest is also known as the Suicide Forest, where people who are contemplating ending it all go for their last trip.
With the help of Australian reporter Aiden (Taylor Kinney) and park ranger Michi (Yukiyoshi Ozawa), Sara sets off to find her sister and bring her out of the forest.
But the woods seem to have other plans for her. Dark spirits known as the Yurei have been known to feed on the sadness of people who stray off the path and manipulate them for their own wicked purposes. Now Sara must find her lost sibling (whom everyone else believes is dead) and escape the grasp of the evil entities that are worming their way into her psyche.
This was a huge letdown that never really lived up to the hype of its trailers. The few scary moments were all ruined in the promos for the film and the story itself was muddled and confused. The characters barely reacted to their supernatural surroundings and when they did it seemed like it was with mild indifference.
The third act managed a decent turn around with a few shocks and twists that you didn’t see coming until the big reveals, but a flaccid first hour kept me uninterested and yearning for an exit from these woods.
I would love to have seen director Jason Zada play around a bit more with the idea that the forest itself is a sentient being with its own agenda. Screenwriters Nick Antosca, Sarah Cornwell and Ben Ketai gave hints about it here and there but never followed through with the idea.You get the feeling that was what they wanted to do but it just never got around to it.
If you’re planning a hike, stay far away from The Forest. You might just die…of boredom.