The Forest (2016)

Starring Natalie Dormer (GoT’s Margery Tyrell), The Forest was a film I had been looking forward to since watching its VR trailer on Buzzfeed at the beginning of January. Honestly, it scared the pants off me and as a horror movie buff, I pride myself on my unshakability so I figured it must be better than Hollywood’s recent stream of poorly made rubbish. The first thing that convinced me this was going to be good was the poster art. Pretty good, huh?

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Sara’s twin Jess has gone missing from her teaching job in Tokyo and is rumoured to have gone to the legendary Aokigahara Forest, known as the place to go to commit suicide if you do not want to be found. Determined to find out what happened to her sister, Sara travels to Japan, recruits a handsome/suspicious ex-pat and a local as tour guides and ventures forth into the forest. Being a typical stroppy white girl, Sara decides she doesn’t want to leave the forest as it grows dark and sets up camp for the night. Her local tour guide warns her to stay on the path. “Her investigation plunges her into a dark world where the angry and tormented souls of the dead prey on those who dare to explore the forest”  – Google.

Straight away, my confidence was wavered when I heard the appalling American accent. Natalie is British, she has an English accent. Why do this? She can be a Brit living in America. She doesn’t need to have a ropy accent. Then came the strategic good twin/bad twin emphasis by the change of hair colour (the good twin is always blonde), the “different paths” growing up and establishing Jess’ flaky nature coupled with depression due to childhood trauma. I’m just going to skip over the obligatory shower scene that horror films can’t seem to do without. They annoy me, let’s leave it at that.

The Japanese backdrop and sets were stunning. It’s a beautiful country and the forest, while creepy af, is amazing. It gives the film such a dark, ethereal quality that, if it had been properly utilised, would have been fantastic. The way colour was used to give it an unearthly gauze was probably my favourite thing about the scene below.

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My first major gripe was the ex-pat helper chum, Aiden, whom she meets in a bar and just assumes she can trust. He’s all eager to assist a woman he’s never met in finding her sister whom apparently he has also never met. Yeah ok, because you’d happily trundle into the most “haunted” forest in the country for people who mean nothing to you.

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Despite the fact that she doesn’t know where her sister is, the tour guide literally tells her to her ACTUAL face that people go in and end up dead regardless of their reason for entering the forest and she is staying in it alone with a man she doesn’t know – Sara decides to spend the night in her sister’s discarded tent. Then wonders why bad shit starts to happen.

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Some moderately creepy stuff happens. I’m about an hour into the film and waiting for the scenes from the VR trailer I saw. After that entire part ends I realise I have seen then, they were just crap. Nothing happens.

Nothing happens.

Then, bam, its the end. And I won’t go into any details for those who haven’t seen it.I might be a film ruiner but I’m not Satan. Let me put it this way, though: I’m never going to get that time back. It wasn’t scary, it was predictable and it wasn’t well thought out. In the final five minutes I was just bored.

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It’s like every other mid-range horror film with a big budget and low expectations. I was properly disappointed, as having such a high-profile actress, I expected it to at least be entertaining.

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