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  • I had my eye on this movie since it came out earlier this year. It was a January release so I was in no rush to see it, but it had a genuinely cool premise: looking for someone in the suicide forest, which is an actual place in Japan where people go to commit suicide. It's pretty unsettling. In the movie, it's said that the forest compels people to kill themselves due to supernatural forces or vengeful spirits. The Forest focuses on Sara, whose sister has gone missing in said forest, and Sara's desperate endeavors to find her sister despite the evidence pointing to her being dead. Up until about the 30-minute mark, I was on board. The pieces were set, the exposition was established, and the characters (Sara, her journalist friend Aiden, and a tour guide) were finally heading into the forest. Again, the atmosphere is creepy throughout. The director clearly has a grasp on how to build tension.

    The problem is that the promising build ups lead to zero payoffs. There are handful of cheap jump scares, a couple of which admittedly shocked me but only momentarily. Once the initial shock wore off seconds later I was in the same state of mind as before. Effective jump scares linger for a while; they imbue dread and usually add something to the narrative. The jump scares here are your typical, "Boo! Something's behind you!", which are easy to shrug off. Also, once they're in the forest, the characters make some decisions that are unfathomably stupid and out-of-character. Like, the main point of the forest is that it makes you think you see things, a psychedelic effect if you will. So after Sara receives this crucial information, she runs after the first thing she sees scurrying around in the forest. While it's pitch black, mind you. It completely takes you out of the movie and makes you lose all empathy for the characters for putting themselves in these avoidable situations.

    Also, The Forest focuses more on the bond between Sara and her sister than the actual forest. So there are plenty of flashbacks, dream sequences, all that garbage that just muddles the fact that, hey, this forest is really f*cking scary. Why not focus on the forest instead of forcing character development, if you can even call it that? It makes no sense. Also, there's nothing we haven't seen before. People being hung? First scene in Sinister. Claustrophobic underground tunnels? The Descent. The only thing that makes the movie unique is the actual setting which is used as a backdrop more than anything.

    The acting is good, as is the premise, but the potential littered within this movie is never fully realized. The director can definitely creep you out but he'll need a better script if he wants to make a truly great movie. The Forest just leaves you feeling hollow and disappointed.
  • samgiannn10 January 2016
    Japan's Aokigahara "Suicide Forest" by itself is a creepy and gruesome place because of its reputation as one of the most notorious suicide spots in the world as well as its historic association with demons in Japanese mythology. Its inherently scary atmosphere is perfect for a good horror movie, but The Forest mostly squanders its promise by degrading it to a hot spot for cheap jump scares. The Forest stars Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer in a dual role as twins Jess and Sara. Jess has disappeared into the forest, and Sara travels to Japan to go into the forest to look for her, unaware of the demons that lurk in the forest. The film has a pretty interesting premise and could have worked if executed correctly. 2014's As Above, So Below took an intrinsically creepy setting, the Paris catacombs, and used an unsettling atmosphere and good scares to make one of the better horror films of that year. The Forest does not use its setting to its advantage. Any atmosphere created by the forest is frittered away by a dull jump scare. Despite all the loud noises and sudden shocks, the scares are just boring. That could have been helped by a good story, but once Sara actually reaches the forest, the plot just sort of stops. The last half of the movie is just her running through the forest while demons pop out from behind the trees. It's not until the end that the plot decides to move forward any more, but by the time the big twist happens, you don't really care. The Forest has a committed performance from Natalie Dormer and glimmers of an interesting movie but mostly wastes them on predictable jump scares and a bland story.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I watched this movie today and I can't help but think that the film is more complicated than it might seem. I feel that this movie is more about mental illness than it is about spirits in the Aokigahara. Let's start with the facts, we have our main character, Sara, and her identical twin, Jess. The story behind these sisters is that, when they were small, they were going down a set of stairs with their grandmother. When they are approaching the bottom of the staircase, the grandmother yells "cover your eyes". What had happened was their father had killed their mother and then proceeded to kill himself. Sara covered her eyes and never saw what had happened, but Jess did not and saw everything. Now here is what I think this whole movie is about, there is no twin sister. There is no Jess.

    Bear with me here. I think that due to this traumatic experience in the childhood of Sara, she dissociated her personality into two different people, Jess and Sara, so that she wouldn't have to deal with the fact that she saw both her parents dead. She claims throughout the movie that she never helped Jess "carry the burden" of what she saw that day, indication I believe that it is simply a place inside her head that she locked away very deeply in order to escape the truth. Now, this theory makes a lot of sense if you pay attention to certain details I believe the director left there on purpose. Here are my top 5:

    1. Early during the movie, we see a scene where Sara is going down a set of stairs to a basement. In the basement, she sees a yellow tent. From the outside, we can see two distinct shadows sitting inside it, but when she opens it, there is only one girl.

    2. When she tells her boyfriend, Rob (Eoin Macken), that she needs to go to Japan, he has on his face a very concerned look. He looks somewhat tired and not shocked by the announcement. I saw this as someone who knows that she is mentally ill and thus tries to calm her down in order to make her not go, without actually trying to reason with her.

    3. When Sara stays the night in the forest, she runs out at night and finds this Japanese lady who tells her to not trust Aiden. This makes her paranoid the rest of the movie whenever he's around. Now here is the deal breaker for me. When she asks him for his cellphone to see if he had any pictures of Jess, she yells at him that there are pictures of her sister in his phone. Aiden denies that he had ever met her sister and just looks at her clueless not knowing what the hell was going on. I think, the picture she saw was one he had taken of her (Sara). She thinks Jess is another person but she's not.

    4. Near the end, when she is in the cabin with Aiden, she loses it because she puts her ear to a door and she swears that she can hear Jess from the other side. Jess slides a note from under the door asking if Aiden was there, Sara answers yes, Jess tells her to kill him (I think). Bottom line is, if you look closely, the handwriting on both "sides" of the conversation is the same. Anyways, Sara grabs a knife and goes to Aiden and is all "Open the closet and let Jess out". Again, Aiden is just completely clueless and tells her that the key is in his boot in order to distract her and try to take the knife from her. In the end, she stabs him, he dies. What's interesting is that the "closet" door opens by itself, yet all she can see when she opens it is that traumatic experience that she lived as a child. There is no Jess. At this moment, she walks down the stairs towards the little girl, and "sees" her parents lying dead on the ground. She yells at the girl that was there to run upstairs as her dad comes back from the dead and "convinces her" to slit her wrists. Again, only one girl there. So it begs the question, who wrote her the note then? It was herself. This further supports the theory because where "Jess" is supposed to be, we only see the event that traumatized her.

    5. After she runs away from the shack, her sister manages to somehow run in the exact same direction at the exact same time. The way the scene is recorded, we can see some sort of parallelism going on between the two. When Jess comes out, Rob looks at her and asks "Sara?" Now, given that the two supposedly have different hair color, I'm not entirely sure he would confuse the two. When she doesn't answer, he asks "Jess?" to which she responds. He then proceeds to walk her out of the forest. I don't think he would have left that forest without Sara...my theory is that he did leave with her; he left with Sara/Jess. The reason why "Jess" was the only one that came out of the forest was because Sara faced her reality back at the shack and accepted that she was the one that saw her parents lying dead on the floor. Thus, two different personalities finally came together into one single person and Sara was forever lost in the forest that was supposedly one that makes people "face their sadness" and "find themselves". That's why Jess says "I can't hear it inside me anymore. The noise where Sara was, it's gone".

    If a sequel comes out, then I guess my theory isn't valid which makes the movie not that good... So I'll stick to my theory. I enjoy it more that way.
  • Argemaluco26 February 2016
    It was obvious that, sooner or later, someone was going to make a film about the legendary forest of Aokigahara, widely known as "the Suicide Forest" due to the big quantity of persons who commit that act there (between 50 and 100 each year, even though the Japanese government doesn't announce the total numbers anymore in order to reduce the fame of that site), maybe inspired by the book The Complete Suicide Manual, which recommended it as an ideal place to do that. But, well... leaving its origin aside, the subject is undoubtedly fascinating and disturbing. Pity that the film The Forest wasn't able to do anything interesting with it. From the beginning, The Forest displays many elements copied in the same degree from the old J-Horror and the Hollywood horror (strident music, nightmares, faces deformed digitally, etc.). And with those visual clichés and cheap thrills, The Forest advances until leading to an unnecessary twist which is more irritating than surprising, due to the arbitrary manipulation of events which doesn't even adequately solve the "mystery" of the damned forest. Another problem is the main character's characterization. As we can suppose, she's completely skeptical on the beginning before the warnings of the supernatural entities inhabiting the forest; her purpose is finding her twin sister, and she won't let any local superstitions to interfere in her mission. But she almost immediately recognizes the fact that, effectively, the uncountable suicides created a malignant atmosphere in the forest, and not everything is like it seems. And then, she stops believing, thinking that everything has a natural explanation. And then, she believes in ghosts again. And then, she doesn't. And then, she does. And that's how things proceed until I couldn't care less about the final answer, which ended up being irrelevant anyway, because of the previously mentioned twist. On the positive side, actress Natalie Dormer makes a good work in the dual role of Sara and Jesse, displaying equal credibility in the suspense sequences and the dramatic scenes she shares with her "sister" or the gallant in turn. And the forest in which most of the movie was shot (located in Serbia) is undoubtedly lugubrious and threatening, unlike the squalid Czech forests we have frequently see in similar horror films; pity that there are too many scenes in almost total darkness which avoid us from appreciating the most dismal details. In conclusion, I liked Dormer's performance and the Serbian locations, but I found The Forest a boring and uninteresting film in spite of that, and I can't recommend it.
  • Upon seeing Jason Zada's "The Forest," I feel like I'm at a point of indifference I have never been at before when it comes to watching and reviewing films. Normally, I emerge from films eager to talk about some aspect, or feel empowered to emphasize details or things in the film I wouldn't have thought general audiences might have noticed themselves. With "The Forest," I emerge with depressingly little to talk about. It's become far too common to kick off a new year with an underwhelming horror film (2012 had "The Devil Inside," 2013 had "Texas Chainsaw 3D," 2014 had "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones," and 2015 had "The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death"), and if nothing else, that seems to be the only constant in American cinema alongside with a surefire hurricane of blockbusters starting in May and continuing through July).

    "The Forest" is set in the Aokigahara Forest, located in Japan's sacred Mount Fuji. It is a forest that was once known as the place where family members would leave sick, crippled, or disabled loved ones to die during times of famine and war, and in present day, is a popular suicide location. We focus on Sara Price (Natalie Dormer), a young woman who gets a call from the Japanese police telling her that her missing twin sister Jess (also played by Dormer) is dead after she was seen going into the Aokigahara Forest. Knowing her sister all too well, and knowing that she is unstable but not suicidal, Sara commits to flying halfway across the world to try and find her, as a strong part of her believes she is still alive.

    Sara's belief is only strengthened when she sees that the body discovered is not Jess, leading her to believe that her sister is still somewhere deep in the forest. At a bar one night, she meets an Australian reporter named Aiden (Taylor Kinney), who decides to do a story on her and her quest to find her sister. She tells him how Jess was always the one that looked toward danger, when she turned her head; she recalls when their parents were killed by a drunk driver and how Jess saw the bodies while she closed her eyes. The next morning, the two venture into Aokigahara with a park ranger named Michi (Yukiyoshi Ozawa), in efforts to try and find Jess.

    The idea of the forest, as explained in very disjointed and vague manners by the locals throughout the course of the film, is that if there is an inkling of sadness in your heart upon entering Aokigahara, it will be exploited through things that you will see in the forest to the point where you'll believe the only way out is suicide. Michi explains to Sara upon entering deep into the woods that anything she sees from here on out is a result of hallucinations and her own mind playing tricks on her. The natural world leaves as soon as you abandon the trail of the forest.

    "The Forest" is marginally effective in creating atmosphere, especially during the late night and early morning scenes when the forest becomes less a collection of trees, branches, and leaves and more of an abstract maze. The issue the film has is rooted in the screenplay, penned by Nick Antosca, Sarah Cornwell, and Ben Ketai. In order for the character relationships and the setting to be simultaneously successful, or at the very least harmonious, they need to be equally developed. Initially, the trio of screenwriters do this right by giving Sara enough time before she has to go in the forest to allow her personality to be open to us to get to know. We get to know about her and her sister's backstory after she meets Aiden and we get a hold on their characters quite nicely.

    The problem is that once Sara, Aiden, and Michi go in the forest, the focus should shift on the forest being the character in the film, which it really isn't. Nothing about this forest feels that eerie, except for the music and the jumpscares we experience when we are immersed into it. The feeling of being trapped in the forest with the characters is there, since there is no cutting to a search party or Sara's fiancé, but there is still no real involvement or characteristic with this forest aside from ropes and the occasionally successful jolt.

    Because of this, "The Forest" grows repetitive, and at the end of it all, we have a conclusion that doesn't answer any of our questions about who Jess is as a person and why she would have wanted to go into these woods in the first place. This is especially frustrating since, from the beginning, Zada and company make it seem like they will develop the story in a manner that's focused on the characters, only to leave the most intriguing soul of the entire film undeveloped in her motivations and her intentions.

    Well-shot, but lacking sustenance and the graceful blend of character and location, "The Forest" is a mediocre horror film, though its PG-13 makes it perfectly acceptable for the middle school/high school crowd to experience a Friday night scare. It's a bit humorous to think that the path the film took is the same the film's characters took upon entering Aokigahara. Instead of following the path that would've keep them safe (the filmmakers keeping both the characters and the location in mind), they took a wrong turn and ended up losing themselves in a sea of unfortunate circumstances.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This entire film is just set-ups for things which never really happen, and a handful of really lame, and completely predictable, jump scares.

    Plot begins in flashback-land, as Sarah travels to Japan, in search of her missing sister, Jess, who disappeared in an area known for suicides, and is said to be haunted by the vengeful spirits of those who have died there. We are introduced, briefly, to her... husband? Boyfriend? It isn't made clear. Whoever the bloody hell he is, he really is only there for the seemingly contractually obligated twist ending. He is mostly unnecessary to the plot, and could be edited out of the film, and his absence would not be noticed.

    After arriving in Japan, we're introduced to Rob, and the story can't decide if he is trustworthy, or a killer. An interesting twist two thirds into the film seems to portray him as being somehow responsible for her sister's death, but then it seems unsure of itself, whether he is a killer, or if it is the restless spirits in the forest trying to trick her. Little is done with that, and it's unfortunate, because that is the most interesting part of the film.

    A weird (although not as creepy as the film wants her to be) schoolgirl is either following her in the forest, or is a few steps ahead of her, luring her farther off the beaten path, deeper into the forest, not because it has any relation to the plot, but just because it's a thing which happens.

    A few unnecessary, and blatantly obvious, jump scares happen, again, not for any real reason, they happen just because.

    Judging by its writing credits, the three writers ( "Nick Antosca and Sarah Cornwell and Ben Ketai" ) all worked on the screenplay separately, independent of each other, as their names are all separated by the word "and". If they had collaborated together, their names would have been linked by an ampersand ( & ), as per Writer's Guild regulations. That is an odd situation, I cannot think of any other title with the writers credited that way. Perhaps that is why the film feels so disjointed, and oddly structured, and doesn't do much with its surprisingly good cast, and competent cinematography?

    And this is probably the 6000th film in the past five years to end with a character lunging at the screen in the final second, in the the most predictable, over used twist/ jump scare ending in cinematic history.
  • 5.5 I would say is right on the money. Not academy material but good for a couple of jump scares. Just saw the movie tonight. First jump scare was so good lady next to me spilled her full bag of popcorn and tipped over her drink...we laughed and laughed...then the usher came.

    I had the movie pegged to go in another direction but I guess the joke was on me, and everyone I was with thought the movie was going in the same direction I thought, so it was pleasant surprise that it was not that predictable.

    Overall 5.5 is good, watchable, scary enough. More psychological than it was Horror or Terror.

    It was a little light on the Horror, and there was 1 single plot line, but still enjoyed it.
  • parrisjim20 January 2016
    As far as horror movies goes this one is not bad..The theme of the suicide forest is intriguing.The stranger in a strange land them works well here.the film avoids most of the horror clichés.

    It has plenty of creepy moments and you'll jump a few times.The production is high and Natalie Dormer gives a good twist on the scream queen ..Her character is not dumb repeating cliché lines and behavior..The questions that run though your head her character answers.The film has a dark ending and is not fairy tale at all..I don't understand why its so poorly rated its not that bad...its a good scary movie.....
  • As a whole the movie works and is very satisfying. It's like a joke that seems to have a weak set up that's made up for with a hilarious punchline, but waiting for the punchline to come in a feature film can be dull.

    It's not like pulling teeth dull or anything like that, It is a good story. It really does not hurt that Natalie Dormer is fun to look at for an hour or two as she plays a woman looking for her twin sister who entered a forest in Japan known to attract those who want to commit suicide and never comes out. For those of you not into Dormer, Taylor Kinney is in it as well as a reporter trying to help, but has his own agenda. If you you don't like either actor that will be a problem cause for the most part it's the two of them in the woods for the majority of the film.

    It's not as scary or frightening as I hoped for. The disturbing images did the trick, but it did not get my heart jumping like I expected, but it feels like the overall story is what is supposed to haunt you. I get it but I'm not all that impressed.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    THE FOREST (2016) * Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney, Eoin Macken, Yukiyoshi Ozawa, Rina Takasaki, Stephanie Vogt. Yawnfest horror film about an obnoxious young woman (Dormer; zero charisma) who is haunted and determined to find her twin sister in the thicket of a supernatural Japanese thicket where those with suicidal tendencies seek out as some sort of sacred burial ground. There is nothing to a plot let alone any sympathy or empathy for such a noxious heroine to endure you want her to succumb to a violent end. No suspense, scares, or sense. Skip it by all means. Sadly continues the unofficial January release that blows! (Dir: Jason Zada)
  • Natalie Dormer plays a woman who is searching for her twin sister(also Dormer) who has gone missing in Japan, last seen in a forest where everybody seems to die, but she is determined to find her no matter what, but will she find her, or will the forest drive her insane?

    The film does have some good scares, and Natalie Dormer does give it her all here. But the story itself feels to cut down, and actors like Taylor Kinney who play it so bland, he just does not have much to work with. The movie tries to hard and it shows, the ending does not leave much to be explained. All in all, it could have been better. Just don't leave much to enjoy all of it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A young woman searches for her twin sister in an infamous Japanese forest beneath Mount Fuji where lost souls go to commit suicide.

    With the help of an American guide, she treks into the heart of the mysterious woodland, and encounters more than her sisters abandoned tent.......

    With it being loosely based on a partially true story (somewhere on this planet, there is definitely a forest, a forest where someone may or may not have taken their own life, and it's in Japan), and written by a quite prolific screenwriter in Goyer, I was hoping that The Forest would take a break from the norm, and go for some genuine chills, rather than your bargain bucket jump scares.

    And with all the potential the film had, with its urban myths and genuinely creepy setting, it offers nothing new, sells out, and goes for your standard teen horror jump scare by-the- numbers horror, and it wastes so much, as it could have been something wonderful.

    Forests on their own can be quite daunting, they are endless, relentless, and the amount of thrillers that have a forest as a setting have that uneasy sense of dread throughout.

    But to go to another country, to a forest filled with urban mythos, and to have your sister vanish in said forest, should have been the stuff of nightmares.

    But no, you'll get irritated by the cattle prod like jump scares, the film pelts you with throughout,,and once you've seen one disfigured person standing behind the main character, or through this red binocular picture things from the eighties, you've seen them all.

    Characters are bland, and atypically horror film stupid, and a half decent twist mid second act, is just squandered in favour of more teenage friendly boo scenes.

    It's a shame really, reading about the actual forest is quite haunting, and then we are given this trash.

    Watch Deliverance or The Edge instead.

    Or something with Forrest Whittaker, or Deforest Kelly.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I thought of being nice about my rating, but why the movie was terrible. Initially, I was so excited about this film I thought it was going to be a chance for some real creativity but...I was wrong. They kick started the year with this mediocre junk, such a waste of money and time. The beginning the main character, Sara, is setting a very dull tone by talking in almost a monotone voice not keeping me remotely interested. So, I continue watching thinking, " OK, maybe this will get better." It didn't, it got worse! Basically, they rush developing the characters and setting up the reason for her going to, "the forest" within the first fifteen minutes. It's so rushed it's dull, the characters aren't developed enough so the audience doesn't have the opportunity to relate, like, or dislike them. Sara ends up going to Japan to search for her twin who is pretty much the opposite of her character except they are both messed up in the head. So, the reasons for their emotional issues are explained in a flashback that is done so lazy. She explains to this random reporter Aiden, whom she met at a bar and goes into the forest with, that her parents died in a crash in front of her house and that she didn't look but get sister did...hence that's why her sister is messed up and decided to take a lonely your in the suicide forest, and in the flashback you clearly hear a gunshot and they go down to a basement not a front yard. It's so obvious that her dad did a murder suicide. Anyways, they go in the forest she starts freaking out and acts like a total B most of the time. I knew she was going to kill herself early on and she did. They attempted to make twist and terms but the dialogue was dull and the scenes were lazy that literally I kept telling myself through the movie that maybe they can save this film with a plot twist...but no. I'm not going to say the whole movie but pretty much her sister escapes and she dies instead, and her sister knew she died and didn't even get emotional, Jesus seriously horrible characters...horrible writing! This movie is so mediocre and tried to hide it in jump scares that were also mediocre. This is so insulting to the horror genre and insulting to the people who have truly struggled with suicide in that forest. Save your time and money and watch something great like "It Follows," now that's how you do a psychological horror something "The Forest" tried to do but failed miserably. Cheers.
  • I love scary movies and there are very few newcomer movies that do it right... Lately movies only scare people because of the cheap sound effects and stuff. This one finally gave me goosebumps. Specially at the last seconds of the movie.

    Great movie, I don't understand why it has so low ratings from the critics. I agree that it's not the best thriller ever made, but it's a good movie in my opinion.

    As also someone in a review commented if you think about it the movie could have different meanings. Like mental illness. I don't know, you should watch it. It's more a psychological thriller than anything. Just don't except supernatural creatures attacking and killing people, then you'll be let down.

    Why I didn't give 10 out of 10: 1. It basically rips off from the Vice documentary "Suicide Forest in Japan". You can see a yellow tent in the movie too, you have a guide person, you can see other things that look very alike. Of course since it's based on a local story in Japan, but they could have made another creative choices by their own instead of ripping off. Less points for that. 2. There are some things that feel unrealistic in terms of what the actors do, can't write this without spoiling but yeah. Some things could have been better worked out. 3. I got goosebumps and the end, but at the same time it could have a better ending when the movie at times feels a little slow. Would be nice to take some flow pace from the beginning and rather use some extra time for the ending. I'll take this back if this movie gets a sequel though.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Hunger Games" starlet Natalie Dormer plays twin sisters in jeopardy in first-time film director Jason Zada's "The Forest," a superficial, supernatural saga set in the unsavory 'suicide forest' in Japan. Basically, this tame twin sisters tale of terror recycles cobwebbed clichés from dozens of standard-issue horror movies, but conjures two few legitimate scares. This half-baked, hallucinatory horror epic features two kinds of scares. A ghoul or group of ghouls materialize out of nowhere in front of our heroine or a zombie stalks her. Indeed, some of these sightings occur at night when our heroine is where she shouldn't be stumbling through the foliage with nothing more than her cell phone to illuminate the gloom. Otherwise, neither Dormer's sympathetic performance nor the exotic real-life setting of Aokigahara makes this exercise in suspense remotely memorable. Clocking in at 95 minutes, "The Forest" could have conjured up more spooky encounters. Nothing here is comparable to genuinely, hair-raising chillers like either "The Grudge" or "The Ring." Essentially, freshman scenarist Sarah Cornwell, "30 Days of Night: Dark Days" scribe Ben Ketai, and "Hannibal" television writer Nick Antosca have penned the equivalent of a routine haunted house thriller. In the latter, somebody—usually a fickle female—survives a night in a haunted house either to prove her pluck or her folly and skirmishes with ghouls galore. Similarly, after our heroine's twin sister vanishes into the suicide forest, her anxious twin jets off to Japan to search for her in that 35 mile acreage of cursed woods. Dormer's heroine isn't the only American loitering in the land of the Rising Sun. An enigmatic American journalist (Taylor Kinney) fluent in Japanese accompanies her on her quest, and he wants to write a story about her search for her sister.

    Life hasn't been a lark for either Sara or Jess Price (Natalie Dormer of "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2") since their parents died when they were youngsters. According to their grandmother, a drunken driver killed their mother and father as the couple were coming home. Sara never saw the blood-splattered bodies because she kept her eyes shut, but her identical twin sister Jess had no such qualms. (Yes, we're given a ghoulish glimpse of the corpses.) Predictably, Jess appropriated the dark look of a Goth girl and a self-destructive personality. On the other hand, Sara married and settled down with Rob (Eoin Macken of "Centurion") who runs a restaurant. Meantime, Jess relocated to Japan, and a high school hired her to teach English as a second language. Sara and Jess have always had an uncanny psychic connection. One can sense when the other is in trouble. Suddenly, Jess disappears under mysterious circumstances, and the news that she was seen last wandering in the Aokigahara worries Sara. Our heroine books a flight to Tokyo. No sooner has Sara entered the Aokigahara Park Visitors Center than she learns that her sister's body has been found. The center temporarily stores suicide case corpses until the next of kin claim them. Naturally, the body isn't Jess because that would have deprived Sara as well as the audience of a dreary tour of murky terrain inhabited a faction of evil fiends.

    While she is contemplating her options, Sara meets an attractive American travelogue writer, Aiden (Taylor Kinney of "Zero Dark Thirty"), at a nearby bar. She tells him about her wayward sister. Conveniently, Aiden knows a forest guide who checks the woods regularly for suicide victims. Sometimes, Michi (Yukiyoshi Ozawa of "The Hidden Blade") manages to locate lost people before they can take their lives and convinces them to refrain from suicide. Michi agrees to help Sara and Aiden search for Jess. Warning signs about sticking to the path clutter the Aokigahara. Reluctantly, Michi escorts them off the beaten path. Things take a turn for the best when Sara spots Jess's tent, but Jess doesn't return. Michi refuses to conduct the search after dusk because it is too easy to get lost. Headstrong Sara informs Michi that she is not leaving without his sister. Aiden surprises Michi with his decision to stay with Sara. Michi warns Sara that the evil spirits can play tricks on them and prompt them to perform acts that they could never imagine. "If you see something bad, it's in your head." Sara spends the night in that tent while Aiden sleeps by the fire. Things get really weird. Our heroine sees ghosts and pursues a disheveled Japanese school girl who says she knows Jess through the undergrowth. Eventually, Sara plunges into a hole that appears as if it were designed for Alice of "Alice in Wonderland" fame. At this point, you get fed up with Sara and her frantic antics. Similarly, Aiden incriminates himself with suspicious behavior after they stumble onto a cabin in the woods.

    The best thing about "The Forest" is its singularly creepy setting. Ironically, most of action was lensed in Serbia's Tara National Forest rather than in the Aokigahara. Japanese officials have banned film crews from shooting in the so-called "Sea of Trees" at the northwest foot of Mount Fuji. Over the years, thousands of depressed Japanese have embarked on pilgrimages there to commit suicide. According to Rob Gilhooly's award-winning article in the "Japan Times," suicide is not illegal in Japan as it is in most Western countries. Remember, Japan boasts a colorful history of defiant samurai who preferred to disembowel themselves through ritual suicide rather than face dishonor. Furthermore, Gilhooly has documented evidence that 54 out of the 247 Japanese who made their pilgrimage to Aokigahara in 2010 did so to end their suffering. Although they have chosen a picturesque setting with incredible cultural significance, Zada and his three writers never take appropriate advantage of it. Instead, they generate little more than hackneyed hokum with a minimal of blood and gore. Ultimately, "The Forest" contributes few insights into the tragic history of the Aokigahara, and Natalie Dormer's sincere performance cannot compensate for the hopelessly incoherent storyline.
  • This movie was created by a first time director and very good but not that known actors. With that being said I loved it and didn't judge it before hand. The critics judge the movie unfairly. If it was a Hollywood powerful director and known actors that are influential then The Forest would of got a fair shake.

    Which watching The Forest I couldn't stop watching it for a second and that's rare with horror movies. Instead because this movie was done by unknowns it should of been praised. But like life Hollywood is unfair and critics make most of there money from powerful Hollywood people not giving good reviews where they are warranted like in The Forest.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The reason this movie isn't necessary is because there are some great Japanese and Korean films that feature the forest with more depth with more likable characters. I advise you It might be me but I hate films where Americans go to foreign countries and have no respect of the people or their customs and culture.

    From the very beginning the one thing that makes the movie irritating is Sara is unlikable. It would be so much better if she had been a sweet likable person missing her sister. She has a snark attitude even when people are trying to be nice to her.

    Sara's in a strange country in huge forest that has a bad reputation to say the least. She first go to find her sister and didn't bother to do research online about the forest. I mean there is all kinds of documentaries, research, footage on the internet. This is the first sign she is too stupid for her own good.

    She is giving a condense version of things she shouldn't do, than proceed to do everything she was not suppose do as if she's checking off the list to make sure she doesn't miss making one mistake. I mean even without the paranormal elements the forest is something to be respected because of size alone. It would scare a person to not do everything their guide tell them to do. There is more than worrying about getting lost in the forest there are bound to be huge spiders, snakes,though the film choose to get that real. etc...

    Also another sign of her stupidity is she listens to an Asian woman that come to her in the middle of the night, but she doesn't pay attention to the man that know the language and lives there. She assumes he has a motive.

    Then after she is hurt, you think everything she does and see from there on could be chalked up to blood poisoning. It's not good to get a cut in the forest and not cleanse it. Looking for her sister is so important to her in the beginning that she can't listen to reason.

    My theory is her twin Jesse wasn't the one who try to take her own life several times with pills. Sara was the one that was damage by seeing her parents dead body. Jessie was behind her so she wasn't the one with mental issues. Sara liked to lie about how her parents died which tells you she was ashamed and it was because she saw it.

    I love the actress in Games of Thrones but her acting felt over;u dramatic and I assume because she had to lose her English accent and play American, everything she said came out brash, arrogant, or sarcastic. You simply don't care if she dies or get out of the forest.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Flagging for spoilers just in case, though I've tried not to give anything away.

    So, the Forest got a lot of criticism early on, and it became apparent to me that a lot of these accusations were false considering that the people making them never saw the movie. Even before it came out, people started spreading news of how "terrible" it was, and I believe that this was unwarranted.

    If you liked The Babadook, I'd recommend giving The Forest a try. While it's not the scariest horror movie out there (most of the scares coming from jumpscares, which were well-timed to be honest but nothing that stuck with you), I think that it was a decent psychological thriller, one that stops and makes your really consider what you've just seen. In that sense, while the movie doesn't leave you with an uneasy feeling like a 'horror' should, it does make you stop and think after you've left the theater - hence why I wouldn't even classify it as a horror.

    While I wouldn't recommend that you go out of your way to make sure that you catch it, nor would I call if the best I've seen, I think that it's a decent film that deserves a chance and that you should consider stopping by if you want to catch a movie this January. Unlike most horror movies today, this one actually has a layered plot, which is a nice change of pace.

    The lead actress does a very good job of playing two different roles. I like that she herself was not overly glamorized (i.e.: she's running around in a forest and LOOKS like she's tired and emotionally exhausted and bruised up and everything, at no point do we see the cliché "I just ran five miles and still have perfect hair n' make-up" combo). The movie is really good at hinting at its twists, which are pretty satisfying in my opinion. It also does a good job of showing us what the main character sees, what's real to her.

    In the end, without giving too much away, I think that you should consider the meaning behind everything our protagonist sees, rather than taking it at face value. Are these really ghosts?? Or are they metaphors??
  • dcarsonhagy17 April 2016
    Warning: Spoilers
    "The Forest" is supposedly a supernatural thriller about a girl who goes into Japan's famous "Suicide Forest" in search of her twin sister and finds...a lot of trees.

    I simply cannot get over how bad this movie was. It didn't notch anything positive from this reviewer: unscary, boring, tedious, convoluted, and (at times) unintentionally funny, I really don't know what the people involved in this was going for. If it was scares, they failed miserably. If it was to entertain its audience, it failed miserably. If it intended to bore the hell out of you, it did succeed there.

    Natalie Dormer, of "Game of Thrones" fame, plays the dual roles. I cannot say her acting was bad; it just was not much of anything. She tried, but even she could not deliver a movie that made much sense. The attempted "twist" just really ticked me off.

    Rated PG-13 for big trees, stay away from "The Forest."
  • darksyde-6350824 April 2016
    1/10
    Wtf
    Warning: Spoilers
    This movie sucks. It just sucks. It reminded me of M. Night Shamalayans "The Village" in the sense that it was made out to be a horror movie, when in reality its a drama with a few pretty bad jump scares thrown in. It has a relatively short running time for a movie these days, just a bit over an hour and a half, but that's still too long. It's extremely slow moving, and the horrible "twist ending" made it seem like the director wanted to b the afore mentioned Shamalayan. And to think, I actually wanted to see this tepid piecenof crap when it was out at the theater. Looking up info on the actual forest this mpcoe is about scared me more than the movie did.
  • I thought this movie would suck, so me and my friend went to see it (mainly to make fun of anything we could). We ended up making fun of the movie because we were scared. It messed with our brains and made us question what was real and what wasn't in the movie. The movie got a lot of jumps on me, and even a few blood-curtailing screams. The Forest was so much fun to watch and the audience never knew what to expect. I would definitely see it again, and I am most certainly buying the movie the day it comes out on DVD. The movie was not as expected and I adored the heck out of it. Good story, great acting, great job messing with the audience.
  • Saw this recently on a DVD. Found the trailer exciting. This is the second film i saw which is based on Aokigahara, the suicide forest in Japan. Honestly, i found both of em boring. The Sea of trees starring Matthew McConaughey was dull n lame. This film was predictable, boring n clichéd. The story is about a girl who goes to the suicide forest in search of her missing twin sister. This is a shoddy piece of tripe, boring n not at all scary. A proper pg13 with predictable jump scares accompanied by loud music n non scary Asian ghost figures. The majority of film stretches its thin story out with unneeded non scary jump scares n i wont stretch my review with more lines for this bland n lame film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The reason I've titled my review this is because I feel after watching this movie much like several other movies it is obviously written by more than one writer. This isn't abnormal at all but when the writers don't have the same creative thought process it just turns into this weird competition of who can put their idea the most into the film.

    The movie starts out with a nightmare which for a horror film you can imagine is not terribly creative. Apparently the main character Sara's identical twin Jess disappeared in Japan after going into the suicide forest. She then travels there, meets pretty boy from Chicago fire in a bar who just so happens to be a journalist being taken into the forest with a guide the very next day.

    They find her sister's tent and naturally Sara decides to stay so naturally our big strapping lad volunteers and the wary Japanese guide whose sole purpose like several other characters in this movie is to put fear into the audience's mind about how scary the forest full of ghosts is basically says forget this I'm out of here.

    After Pulse, The Grudge and The Ring do we really need to keep dishing out this Japanese ghost crap. There's absolutely no originality in this film at all. The flickering light at the end of the hallway with a creepy but essentially harmless character standing at the end, the un-wrapping of a bandage only to find a wound full of maggots, the Japanese dead girl so Grudge cliché dressed in a private school uniform.

    Really? And then by the time she was in a cave with a creature that looked like it jumped out of Pan's labyrinth I was done. Some people screamed I laughed. This movie was like a head of nappy hair just shooting in any direction and just how predictable they're making movies lately is ridiculous.

    I mean when you hand your knife to someone who's obviously losing their mind are you really that surprised when they kill you? And the whole stabbing during a weak struggle has been done up the ass. Wait for Netflix I beg of you I promise it'll be there soon. I do however suggest The Ruins a much better version of what I think this movie was going for.
  • pranayjalvi27 February 2016
    'The Forest', was it a horror film ?? Starring Natalie Dormer in dual role as Jess/Sara Price, The Forest is one of the movies in 2016 which everyone would like to leave in the forest itself. The trailer felt better and promising with Dormer in the lead but after watching the movie, I just felt that I wasted 90 minutes of my time waiting for something spooky to happen. The movie was bad as its plot line and there was nothing horror in the movie. A bad start for a horror genre movie in 2016. The best use for this forest would be to dig a hole and bury this pathetic and boring horror film to the surface. The movie deserves 1.5/10
  • The woods can be a very scary place. When I was in college, one of my friends talked me into going for a nighttime walk which led us into an old cemetery filled with trees. When we reached the middle of the cemetery, a tall figure which seemed to have no face stepped out from behind a tree and groaned like a ghost. I had run about half-way back towards the cemetery entrance before I heard people laughing hysterically. The "ghost" removed the gray hood from his head and my friends and I had a good laugh about the whole incident as we walked back to the campus. If it turns out there's no real danger, it can be fun to be scared. If you're in an actual haunted forest, not so much. A deep, dark forest with many reasons to fear it is the primary setting for the horror thriller "The Forest" (PG-13, 1:35).

    Jess and Sara Price (both played by Natalie Dormer) are twins, but are identical in looks only. Sara is the responsible one, while Jess is a free spirit who often makes poor choices – and who has a dark side. Not long after Jess takes a job teaching English in Japan, she goes missing. Whether Jess wanted to disappear or whether something bad happened to her, Sara, who believes twins have a spiritual connection, senses that Jess needs her, so Sara flies to Japan.

    Reportedly, Jess was last seen entering Aokigahara Forest. Covering 14 square miles at the base of Mount Fuji, the forest is dense and foreboding – and not just because of the tall trees and difficult terrain. The locals say that previous generations of poor Japanese brought their sick and elderly residents into the forest and left them to die. According to Japanese folklore, the spirits of people who die suddenly, are murdered or don't have the proper funeral rites performed, remain in the physical realm to haunt the living. That would make this forest a less-than-desirable place to, say… have a family picnic. It doesn't help matters that, for decades, Aokigahara Forest has been a popular location for people committing suicide. Still, tourists without a death wish do choose to visit this place. Sara… has to.

    Not knowing the language, the customs or the terrain, and not knowing what to believe about the forest, all make Sara's search pretty challenging. She attempts to retrace her twin sister's steps, but when she gets out to the forest, the people at the visitor's center treat her with a strange combination of politeness, callousness and fear. Sara is determined to go into the forest looking for her sister, but is warned repeatedly "Do Not Leave the Path". In her hotel, Sara meets an Australian journalist named Aiden (Taylor Kinney) who offers to get her together with a local guide in exchange for her story.

    Michi (Yukiyoshi Ozawa) reluctantly agrees to let Sara tag along with him and Aiden as Michi searches for bodies of people who recently committed suicide in the forest. Michi doesn't seem especially superstitious until Sara finds a recently occupied tent that she believes belongs to Jess and decides to spend the night in the forest. Michi tells her that the forest, especially after dark, can make you see things – and even make you do things – "very bad things". Sara is undeterred, so Aiden decides to stay with her. In order to avoid spoilers, all I'll say further is that over the ensuing hours, Sara's quest to find her sister gets more complicated and scarier… and when Michi returns, he finds an empty tent.

    "The Forest" is an original and entertaining horror movie. It's not a slasher flick – more like a creepy and sometimes scary supernatural thriller. Think of it as a combination of "The Amityville Horror", "The Descent" and "The Grudge". I'm not sure what's so scary about Japanese schoolgirls, but this movie makes good use of them, as well as visions of various deceased individuals, who have a more self-evident fright factor. First-time feature film director Jason Zada gives us enough scary images (a few of which might make some Movie Fans jump in their seats) to qualify this as a horror film, but it's effectiveness lies in what you don't see – and don't know about the characters and their surroundings.

    Every movie of this type has its surprises and twists, but Zada doesn't overdo anything and the reveals he does put forward feel organic. In that sense, the film uses the common pitfalls of the genre in its favor, as we are on the lookout for cheap tricks which aren't there. This film also lays the groundwork for its plot more thoroughly and contains plot points, dialog and acting, that are all better than you find in most horror movies. I did spot a couple minor plot holes that I wish had been fixed up and a couple plot points that I wish had been clearer, but this is still an above average horror thriller that you'll be glad has the guts to stray from its genre's well-worn paths. "B+"
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