Written by Josh Brewer, December 9, 2016, at 4:30 p.m. Tweet to: @theJWBrewer
Title: The Forest
Director: Jason Zada
Writer: Ben Ketai, Nick Antosca, Sarah Cornwell
Release Date: January 8, 2016
Cast: Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney, Yukiyoshi Ozawa
The Forest Cliff’s Notes
While searching for her missing sister in a cursed Japanese forest, a young woman falls into a supernatural quagmire of ghosts, annoying red herrings, and trees. Lots of trees. Very few scares and lots of trees.
I decided to go back and hit a few of the genre flicks from 2016 that I missed before the end of the year hits us. The Forest was certainly one that I avoided; not only for its PG-13 rating, but also because I was busy watching flicks I knew were going to be better. And you know what? They were.
Setting aside the major issues that The Forest faced in terms of its release – I’ll be hitting that later on – you have to wonder what folks were thinking when they made this flick. You’ve got a mildly interesting location, a solid -if-uninspired cast, and enough money to pull something off that could be at least slightly original.
The results contain a lackluster script that tries to replace your Adderall, an attractive group of folks given nothing to do but hike, and what seems like a waste of everything involved, especially the money. The ending of the flick spits in the face of the viewer, who was probably so pissed off about the useless red herrings that they’d stopped caring long before the ending showed up. I know I called it quits well before.
That’s not to say everything is terrible. The cast gives what they can, especially in light of the plot they’re expected to carry. And there are a few jump scares that are half-way to okay. Alas, Japanese school girls don’t scare me, Battle Royale excluded, so most of the flick just falls flat.
And that’s the problem, nothing here works well enough to suggest it’s better than anything else. The entire endeavor reeks of a middling mess with nothing to life it out of the bog the film tries so desperately to get stuck in. Hell, it wasn’t even shot in the Aokigahara, because it’s illegal to film there. The thing was shot in Serbia. That’s the level of care they took in making this movie, they couldn’t even get it on the right continent.
Dormer comes off alright. She has to carry the flick through its mess of a story and does well enough to come out looking like she’s better than this movie. Mostly because she is. The same can be said for Kinney, who does everything he can to be likable while putting up with a script that hates him.
Zada manages to give The Forest a great look. It’s a really pretty flick. The whole thing is void of tension, logical structure, illogical structure, a viable sense of pace, or anything memorable. But it’s pretty.
I’m not sure how it took three people to write this mess. The story is only as focused as the actors make it, which means the script ain’t doing its job. That, combined with the cookie-cutter characters and a story that is literally held together with coincidence, means we’re looking at a sub-par effort. And heaven forbid you ask why any of this is occurring, cause the ending makes no sense. Actually, now that I think about it, the whole thing makes no sense.
Meh. There’s a stabbing and some blood. And yeah, PG-13, but look at The Shallows and then try to explain why this thing is bone-dry in terms of the red stuff. The ghosts range from serviceable to meh.
Some of the jump scares are a-OK. Plus, I’m a sucker for a few good J-horror references.
The Forest believes twins have magical twin powers. Not as a supernatural thing, just in general.
Fact of the matter is, The Forest just isn’t scary. The whole thing is poorly crafted, from script to the celluloid finish, and the result is forgettable long before it’s engaging.