‘The Forest’ loses its way

Film inspired by Japan’s Aokigahara Forest falls short, lacks true story of forest

By Joe Matthews, Staff Writer

“The Forest” unfortunately didn’t do the legends surrounding Japan’s Aokigahara Forest justice.

Also known as the Suicide Forest, Aokigahara is known for being the spot where hundreds of people have chosen to end their lives. Even with a backstory as haunting as that to work with, “The Forest” fell short of its potential.

“The Forest” revolved around Sara Price, played by Natalie Dormer, as she searched for her twin sister in the famed Japanese forest. Not speaking the language or having any familiarity with the region, she went against the advice of her family and friends and traveled to Japan when she learned that her sister Jess, also played by Dormer, entered the forest and never came out.

Upon reaching the edge of the forest Sara met Aiden, a traveling journalist from Australia, who was writing a story on the forest. Feeling her story would benefit his, Aiden, who was coincidently friends with a forest ranger, invited Sara to accompany him into the forest. Finding the remnants of Jess’ camp, Sara again didn’t listen to reason when she insisted upon staying in the forest overnight.

As night fell, the frights began. She started seeing and hearing things and the audience began to question Sara’s sanity. With the film becoming more of a psychological thriller, the audience soon didn’t know what was real or just a figment of Sara’s imagination. Not knowing what’s real herself, Sara succumbed to the power of the forest.

The psychological element of “The Forest” was probably what held this movie together. Without that, it would have fallen into the list of movies that relied solely on predictable jump scares.

Taylor Kinney did a good job as Aiden, keeping the audience guessing as to whether or not he was trustworthy. Dormer, on the other hand, was rather bland in her role as both sisters. This could have been due to the fact the script put no time into developing either character.

Overall, there were some good scares in “The Forest,” and it did a good job at being more of a psychological thriller than a horror. Unfortunately, it was unable to relate any of the true backstory of Aokigahara into the movie, causing it to fall short. With the acting talent, the location and the already present myths around Aokigahara, “The Forest” could have been terrifying, but instead it wanders from the path and loses its way.