Main cast: Natalie Dormer (Sara and Jess Price), Taylor Kinney (Aiden), Yukiyoshi Ozawa (Michi), and Eoin Macken (Rob)
Director: Jason Zada
The Aokigahara Forest in Japan is a stretch of woods infamous for being a place where people go to commit suicide. Apparently, in the old days, they used to dump old and infirm people there, and with all the deaths associated with that place, it is not surprising that someone will decide to make a horror movie out of that place. Unfortunately, they forget to include any scares in the end result.
Sara Price, our American heroine, learns that her twin sister Jess ran off into the Aokigahara Forest while visiting Japan, and that poor darling has yet to be found. Naturally, our heroine runs off to follow her sister’s trail, because you can never trust those shifty-eyed third world people when it comes to doing their job. She meets a reporter, Aiden, and they get the usual Japanese guide who knows things but nobody will listen to him anyway, Michi, to show them the way to the forest. I presume Sara will then use her sixth sense power to track down Jess… oh wait, she doesn’t have any.
But she has powerful dumb in abundance, though. It’s not long before she runs off at the first sound of something rustling in the bushes, because that has to be Jess – really! – and soon Aiden has to chase after her. And get killed by that stupid chit in the end, as a result. Sara falls down a hole, trips, screams, and does everything a stupid American tourist can do in a dumb movie like this. Am I suppose to feel sorry for her? I guess one can argue that maybe the spooks in the forest are influencing her mind and making her even dumber than she normally is, but Sara is still an annoying creature, so no, no cookies for her today.
The worst thing here is that, instead of doing anything interesting about the Japanese folklore associated with the place. the movie relies on tried and tired tropes like creepy little girls that have done to death already in similar movies.
The Forest isn’t a long movie (it clocks in slightly over 1 hour and 30 minutes), but it feels like an interminable bore nonetheless, thanks to the fact that the entire movie is basically about American tourists who are too dumb to listen to the locals and not run off on their own without a clue. On the bright side, non-American folks in the tourism sector may get a vicarious thrill out of watching the dumb Americans in this movie get what they richly deserve. Now someone please do a sequel with Chinese tourists!