By Darin Skaggs
As film genres go horror is the most interesting to me. There is so much that you can pack into a horror film. First of all, it could really be used as an almost rollercoaster type adrenaline rush for the audience. You can create great characters that are quickly realized because of whatever dire situation they are in is making them reveal who they really are. It could also pack many different themes inside whether it be a metaphor for family life, about some sort of mental illness or even political. Sadly, more often than not these movies are paint by the numbers, no good filmmaking. In Jason Zada’s new film The Forest there is no sense of real fear, no danger and nothing more than a tale of a few people walking into some woods where people go to kill themselves to find the ones they love which sounds interesting, but the film does not find a way to make it so.
The person who goes into this forest, which is based on a real place in Japan, is Sara (Natalie Dormer) a girl who is married and living in America. She gets a call that her twin Jess (also played by Dormer) has entered these woods. Sara goes immediately to Japan and then takes a few days to find the forest. Eventually she does get to the woods after meeting and flirting with Aiden (Taylor Kinney) who is going into the forest with a guide. They get there and after hours of searching, they find Jess’ tent. The guide says it is too late and will have to come back tomorrow. Determined to find her twin, who she claims is not dead at this point because of their mystical twin powers, Sara stays behind. Just so she will be safe, Aiden stays behind as well. The guide suggests to not doing this because night is more dangerous than morning.
Parts of this film are creepy. There is a scene before the woods, the lights are flickering and a figure is clearly in the corner moving. Sara walks towards the figure which leads to an elderly women running right at Sara and screaming. The screaming is unnecessarily loud, just to startle you and make you jump out of your seat, tricking you into thinking you were scared. It just ends up being a crazy old lady, which has nothing to do with the story. Her caretaker even apologizes for the inconvenience and this lady never pops up again. The scares or the moments leading up to the scares are worthless to the story. Most good horror films have double meaning or advances the story, but here there is no substance in the frightening moments.
There are scenes that seem to be taken from other horror films as well. A young, possibly ghost kid who haunts the main character which has been done in many other films like The Grudge. Sara falls into a hole in the ground which leads to her exploring a cave. This whole scene looks like it is ripped off straight from The Descent. Nothing really seems original in this movie, every scare is boring at best, if not laughable. Also there are twists in the film, which are predictable. I am a person that could be easily tricked by a twist in a movie or TV show. I enjoy being surprised each time. Here it was clear what the twist was. The ending also brings on a fairly clear and predicable twist, but brings down the movie even more by its lack of cleverness and effort. If there is anything positive to say, it looks really good, lit fairly well and the cinematography gives off a creepy look. Otherwise, it is just a mess that does not leave you scared of this non-fictional location.