Notable Cast: Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney, Eoin Macken, Yukiyoshi Ozawa
With a generic title like The Forest and some underwhelming trailers, I just went ahead and decided to skip seeing this little haunted forest flick in theaters. Even when it dropped on VOD, I was hesitant to use my credits to watch the film. However, impulsive renting certainly got the better of me and I decided to give The Forest a chance. Like its underwhelming title, the film is also quite underwhelming. The Forest is one of those films that has a rather intriguing basis and it’s far from being bad in many regards as it passes by with enough atmosphere, scares, and ideas to keep one watching at least. However, it succumbs to one of horror’s worst enemies. It plays it safe. Ultimately, it’s a move that undercuts what might have been a fun and creepy flick.
Sara (Dormer) just knows her twin sister Jess (also Dormer) has had something bad happen to her. It’s that twin connection, you know? With a bit of investigation she finds out that Jess has disappeared into the Suicide Forest in Japan, a place where few people emerge alive when lost. She decides it’s up to her to find out what happened and she heads into the dreaded (perhaps haunted?) forest to find out what happened.
|Trespassing in haunted woods. Always a horror film no-no.|
Execution wise, The Forest looks top notch. Director Jason Zada has a knack for muting the colors of the film without sapping the energy of the visuals (the blacks are super black in the night scenes and it creates a nice disorienting tone) and the production values are pretty impressive. There are times when the cast feels a bit misplaced, including Natalie Dormer as the lead Sara who lacks a lot of charm and dynamics for the scary stuff to seem all that scary, and the film should have taken a bit more time developing the “guide” for the forest expedition as he was perhaps the most interesting character that doesn’t get nearly enough screen time. The scares can be a bit predictable at times, if not forcefully jammed into the film when it comes to the childhood toy that Sara finds in a hole or eye rolling as Sara becomes paranoid of a journalist that she tags along with, but it’s commendable for its atmospheric tone that is used to give those moments meaning even if the jump scares seem formulaic.
|Not a scarecrow, more like a scareperson.|