The Forest (2016) Horror Movie Review


“The Forest,” directed by Jason Zada, is a psychological horror film that takes its audience on a haunting journey through the real-life Aokigahara Forest at the base of Mount Fuji, notoriously known as the Suicide Forest. The movie follows Sara Price, played by Natalie Dormer, who ventures into the ominous woods in search of her twin sister, Jess, also portrayed by Dormer, who has mysteriously disappeared. Jason Zada is credit for writing The Houses October Built.

The film opens with a sense of urgency and a rush of expository scenes that set the stage for Sara’s desperate search. As she arrives in Tokyo and heads to the forest, the audience is quickly introduced to the legend that the spirits within Aokigahara prey on sadness, driving individuals to their demise. This premise alone sets a chilling backdrop for the narrative, promising a blend of emotional depth and supernatural elements.

Zada’s approach to horror deviates from the conventional path. Early on, the film relies on ambient noise and editing rhythms to build tension, rather than the typical eerie score that often accompanies the genre. This choice is refreshing and adds a layer of authenticity to the experience, making the audience feel as if they are part of Sara’s journey, every step of the way.

However, as the story unfolds, “The Forest” seems to fall back into familiar territory, employing some of the more predictable scare tactics that the genre is known for. Despite this, the film offers a few twists and turns that keep the viewers engaged. Natalie Dormer delivers a compelling performance, effectively portraying the dual roles of Sara and Jess, which becomes a central element to the film’s psychological exploration.

Critics have had mixed reactions to “The Forest.” Some appreciate the slow build-up of suspense and the cerebral approach to horror, while others find it lacking in genuine scares and too reliant on horror tropes. The film has been described as an “expertly crafted missed opportunity,” with solidly intriguing ideas that it hesitates to fully explore. Despite the criticisms, “The Forest” has been noted for its visual appeal and the performance of its lead actress.

In the Nutshell

“The Forest” is a film that may not redefine the horror genre but offers a unique setting and a strong lead performance that are worth the watch for fans of psychological thrillers and supernatural horror. It’s a movie that walks the line between exploiting the lore of its setting and providing a character-driven story of resilience and determination against unseen forces. Whether it succeeds in delivering a truly frightening experience is subjective, but it certainly provides a thought-provoking look into the depths of sorrow and the human psyche. I give 2 out of 5 stars.

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Genre: Paranormal

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