Directed by Jason Zada
Written by Nick Antosca, Sarah Cornwell, and Ben Ketai
Starring: Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney, Eoin Macken, and Yukiyoshi Ozawa
“The Forest” is a supernatural horror film set in the Aokigahara Forest in Japan. The Aokigahara Forest, a place strongly associated with demons in Japanese mythology and likely due to this demonic association that the forest is a common place for people to commit suicide. The mythology surrounding the forest and the place of suicide in Japanese culture, i.e. the ritual of seppuku, is all you need to make a thrilling supernatural horror film surrounding the Aokigahara Forest. While “The Forest” references the cultural connotations of Aokigahara, this information amounts to nothing more than expositional background information. The Aokigahara Forest is such a rich subject for a horror film that it was detrimental to the movie that it did not make full use of the Aokigahara setting has to offer.
The plot of “The Forest” revolves around two MacGuffins, one that turns to be the MacGuffin and one for what for 75 percent of the movie feels like the MacGuffin. One MacGuffin is okay because having a MacGuffin is a part of most movies and at some point you just accept that something that appears important is ultimately inconsequential. The issue is that there are essentially two MacGuffins. The whole plot revolves around Dormer’s character searching for her sister, and because there is ultimately one MacGuffin in the plot, the sister cannot also be a MacGuffin because then most of the movie is useless. “The Forest” is either a movie that revolves around Dormer searching for her sister, or the ultimate MacGuffin, which never gets resolved.
Overall, “The Forest” is a horror film that is as wooden as the many trees in the forest where it takes place, and frankly, the movie is torturous to sit through that you will want to go to the Aokigahara Forest yourself. Apologies to fans of Miss. Dormer because this is not the film that will transition her from “Game of Thrones” to movie stardom.