Movie ReviewsHanging Out in the Forest (The Forest Review)

Keith NoakesJanuary 8, 2016

When her twin sister Jess disappears in Japan, a young American woman named Sara Price (Natalie Dormer) becomes determined to find out what happened to her. Sara’s investigation leads her to the legendary Aokigahara Forest, located at the base of Mount Fuji. Accompanied by expatriate Aiden (Taylor Kinney), she enters the mysterious wilderness after being warned 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.

I had some interest in this one from the trailer and the whole idea behind the Aokigahara Forest for which I’ve never heard of before. So based on this alone, I thought it had promise. The film’s story is when an American woman named Jess Price (Dormer) goes missing in Japan, her twin sister Sara (Dormer) is determined to figure out what happened. Sara’s investigation leads her to the famous Aokigahara Forest, located at the base of Mount Fuji. Accompanied by another American man named Aiden (Kinney), she enters the forest while not staying on the path. She soon enters a dark world where she must encounter angry souls who prey on those who enter. If you’re into horror movies consisting mostly of things jumping out of nowhere, then this film may be for you. I will admit to having jumped a few times but I got over it fairly quickly. I also found that the film took a little too long to get going which was a shame since the film is only barely over 90 minutes. The film chose to focus more on the relationship between Sara and Jess which served to explain Sara’s motivation in finding her sister Jess but I don’t think it went far enough as it failed to establish why Jess would have been there in the first place. I could understand Sara’s motivation but it didn’t seem worth it so it the film did not captivate me as much as I would have wanted. Despite the film having a simple premise, I sometimes found it hard to follow as the film felt like it was trying to be too many things and I was just being pulled in a lot of directions. I don’t want to give anything away but I think you probably know where I’m going. Other than the premise, this wasn’t exactly the most original story so you’d often find yourself able to predict what happened next as I found it to be very cliche-ridden. When I wasn’t predicting what was happening next, I often found myself asking why as I found the story often took stupid turns because the plot was just full of holes. It felt like these holes were used to justify future plot decisions. I was also not a fan of the ending as it was the source of most of my “whys” and just left me with more questions than answers. The only redeeming thing here for me was Dormer’s performance. Despite Jess not being properly established, her performance as Sara was good as she was the vehicle for all of the film’s scares. Overall, this was a pretty disappointing film, squandering its promising source material by often taking the easy/stupid route when it came to storytelling.

Score: 5.5/10

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