Sunday, January 17, 2016

Movie Review #363: "The Forest" (2016)

Movie"The Forest"
Director: Jason Zada
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Image Source
When her twin sister Jess (Natalie Dormer) goes missing in Japan's Aokigahara forest, aka the Suicide Forest, Sara (Natalie Dormer) hops on a plane to Japan and heads into the forest to look for her. However, Aokigahara is full of angry spirits, and those that go in with a sad heart may never come back out. 

January movies do not have the best track record of being worthwhile viewings, and this sentiment goes double for any frightful films that happen around the beginning of any given year. Natalie Dormer pulls some minor double duty as twin sisters Sara and Jess in this year's first horror film, which also happens to be the first true release of 2016. Though Dormer technically plays two characters and they do share one scene together, they never actually share the same screen, and she only spends about 2% of screen time as Jess anyways. "The Forest" tries to build on some really creepy Japanese mythology with a tragic history. Aokigahara forest is at the foot of Mount Fuji and has been nicknamed "the suicide forest." It is believed to be haunted by evil spirits, called Yūrei, the angry spirits of those lost within its woods. Are you invested? While you should be because it sounds so cool, but don't be. Director Jason Zada takes this highly potential source of great opportunity and creates a run-of-the-mill, cliché PG-13 January horror film, just like we feared. "The Forest" draws on pretty much every horror trope ever created, including the dreaded (unnecessary here) jump scares and background noise of laughing children and crams them into this mostly boring story. Zada uses long shots of trees, moss covered rocks, slow motion wild life, and wild mushrooms as ominous score plays throughout the film and interweaves his camera work with sub-par acting, awful editing (seriously, her nail polish goes from black to clear within 45 seconds), simple writing, and too many contrived moments featuring goofy looking, not even remotely scary ghost faces. At some point, mostly around 20 minutes into the film, the novelty of the lore wears off and gives way to a snoozefest of a plodding plot, a shocking lack of scares, and all around disappointment. We aren't sure if Zada was trying to set up an overabundance of scary mood, but you aren't going to get that with pretty forest-rial photography, which would have been better suited in a nature documentary.

Everything about "The Forest" is done either misleadingly or over-emphatic. 'Clues' turn into red herrings and the wrong points of the story are focused on for no reason. Zada isn't exactly a master of subtlety, either, as he lingers on objects so long, he might as well be yelling at the audience with a bull horn, "HEY!! Look, it's a sign! It says do not enter!" Of course, in true horror movie fashion, our protagonist pulls the typical, expected moves and goes against natural logic to disobey. Every piece of advice Sara is given is ignored from the beginning of the movie until the end of it: "Don't go in the forest." She goes in the forest. "Don't leave the path" She leaves the path."You shouldn't stay in Aokigahara overnight, the spirits will get you." She stays overnight, along with her pointless co-star Taylor Gaga, errr, Taylor Kinney, whom Sara met in a bar and lives in the area. "Well, if you're going to stay, don't leave this spot." Of course, she leaves the spot, and so on. This happens over and over again until all the misleading morsels of information lead to the film's inevitable, boring, basic conclusion. All being said, it's not the worst horror movie we've seen by a long shot, but it still isn't good by any means. It's not quite worst of the worst level, but for the first movie of 2016, man, we're off to a rough and tough start to the year.

My Rating: 3.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 4/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 11%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

No comments:

Post a Comment