DVD Review: The Forest (USA, 2015)

Loosely-based around Japan’s real life (and really terrifying) ‘suicide forest’, The Forest is a pretty underwhelming and generic horror flick. There’s an enormous gulf in how evocative and eerie the subject material can be and how compelling this film is. There are so many different ways to deploy and explore the premise of this film. Unfortunately, it seems very few of those ways have occurred to director Jason Zada.

The setup here is simple, with Jess (Natalie Dormer) flying to Japan and when her sister Sara (also Natalie Dormer) goes missing the in the titular woods. She teams up with journalist Aiden (Taylor Kinney) to search for her but things quickly take a turn for the supernatural.

Credit where it’s due – Dormer’s performance carries this movie. She manages to bring something compelling to both Jess and Sara. Regrettably, this performance is drowning in the mediocrity around it. Kinney’s character is entirely forgettable as the film’s “monsters”.  In his defense, however, the script doesn’t give either of them to work with. They walk for a bit, talk for a bit, suspect each-other of wrongdoing and run further into the wilderness. Risen and repeat.

Early on, the film attempts to bring some creative energy to the direction and cinematography but it felt like the director just gave up. There’s something resembling a sense of tension and atmosphere established by The Forest but isn’t really maintained with much success. As a result, hallucinations, shock-twists and jump scares fail to reall land with any impact.

Despite a double-performance by Natalie Dormer, The Forest can’t escape feeling lazy, contrived and uninspired. It quickly feels like something you’ve seen a thousand times before. If you’re looking for a scare, you’re better off going for a walk in the park than spending your time with this movie.

Review Score: TWO STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

The Forest is available on DVD and Blu-ray.

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