the forest | jason zada | nick antosca | sarah cornwell | ben ketai | natalie dormer | eoin macken | stephanie vogt | ghost | ghosts | haunted | mystery | thriller | united states | taylor kinney | yukiyoshi ozawa
Film: The Forest
Director: Jason Zada
Writer: Nick Antosca, Sarah Cornwell and Ben Ketai
Starring: Natalie Dormer, Eoin Macken and Stephanie Vogt
This film begins with a woman in the back of a cab. We see flashbacks of what led her to where she is. The woman is played by Natalie Dormer and she plays both roles as twin sisters. The blonde haired one we see is looking for the darker haired one. The dark haired one is named Jess and she has moved to Tokyo to be a teacher there. She has gone missing in the Aokigahara forest, better known as the Suicide forest. We get a scene as well with her boyfriend, played by Eoin Macken, but she is distracted during the dinner.
Dormer has come to Japan to find her. She starts at her sister’s school where she meets with the head teacher, played by Akiko Iwase, and a student, played by Ibuki Kaneda. It appears that the school took a trip to the forest to go up Mt. Fuji, but that was when Jess disappeared. Kaneda thought that Dormer was a Yurei when she appeared, which is a kind of ghost.
Dormer then goes to outskirts of the forest and into a visitor center. She asks if anyone has seen her sister there and they claim they have. Dormer goes into the morgue, but the woman isn’t her sister. She then goes to a local bar where she meets a reporter played by Taylor Kinney. He at first hits on her and then buys her a drink. She relays her story to him and takes interest in it. He asks if he can write an article about it. She agrees and tells him a story of how her and her sister’s parents died. She stated it was a car accident with a drunk driver, but we see it played out. What we see something much different, but what really happened to them?
Kinney then offers to have Dormer join him. He is going to explore off the path in the forest with a trained guide, played by Yukiyoshi Ozawa. She takes him up on the offer. The following morning they head out there. Ozawa warns them that if they sees things to keep in mind that they are not real. The history of the forest and how things happen out there are also explained. One thing to point out here is that everything he is relaying is factual, which is cool.
Some things that are pointed out that ropes are tied just in case someone decides to change their mind so they can get out or so their bodies can be found. Also some people bring tents, if they are still on the fence whether or not to go through with it. As they leave the path, Dormer hears odd noises coming from the woods. They find a tent and nearby is a man hanging from a tree.
As they travel deeper, they find a tent that belongs to Jess. Inside are things that belong to her. Ozawa tells them that they need to go back because it isn’t safe in the woods at night. Dormer refuses to leave, thinking that her sister is having second thoughts and will be back. Kinney decides to stay with her and keep her safe as well. Ozawa leaves, against his better judgment and demands that they don’t leave the camping spot.
That night though, Dormer ends up meeting a woman in the woods who tells her that her sister is still alive. They leave the camp site and start to try to find their way out. Is Jess still alive? Can they get out before it is too late? Can Ozawa find them? Is Kinney holding a secret or are the woods getting to Dormer?
Now I had seen trailers for this film and I thought it looked interesting. I had heard of the Suicide forest before and to incorporate that with a ghost story seemed cool. This film though lacked in execution for me though. I felt that it rushes to give us the back-story in the beginning with some quick flashbacks. I have an idea of what the reveal with Dormer’s parents’ means, but I was also slightly confused by that. I just don’t feel it built enough tension and the payoff at the end wasn’t enough to redeem it for me. I like the concept though that the isolation of this forest and having hallucinations. It can be played off as nothing supernatural is happening, but the stress of all of this combined causing her to see things.
The acting of the film was solid. I thought Dormer did well at playing the two sisters. We don’t get much of Jess so I really can’t give her too much credit there. I did think the main character she played though was good. She came off as very believable. I also have a big crush on her. I also liked that they went for the ‘yin and yang’ angle having the good one with blonde hair and the one with troubles with darker hair. Kinney was okay in this role. He didn’t blow me away though. I did like Ozawa and thought he did well. We actually see the moral dilemma he goes through in making his decisions. The rest of the cast I would say was decent as well.
I have heard there are some concerns out there about the effects in this film. I really didn’t have any problems with them. Most of them looked to be practical from what I could tell, but I know some of the ghosts were done with CGI. For me, we never get a really long look at them, so I didn’t have any issues there. The practical effects that were done, I liked. The editing of the film I have a problem with, because I feel that the way the film was constructed did not build the tension that we needed. I also don’t really recall the score of the film, but it didn’t really hurt it for me either.
Now with that said, I felt that this film had potential but failed to live up to it. The concept of the film was good. We don’t get the payoff that I wanted or build enough tension for me to get into it. The acting is actually pretty good though. The effects I didn’t have any issues with. Editing was where I had some concerns and see issues. The score didn’t help or hurt the film for me either. I think this is an average ghost film with some good and bad things. If the film sounds interesting, give a shot as you might like it, but I was disappointed in this effort unfortunately.
My Rating: 5 out of 10