Review: “The Forest”: Or Watch Natalie Dormer Ask A Hundred Questions



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Posted February 16, 2016 by

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Oh, where to start with this horror movie that plays out more like a comedy than anything else? I guess we’ll begin with the synopsis. Sarah price has an identical twin sister, Jess (both played by Natalie Dormer). When they were young, Jess witnessed a horrible crime scene in their home that Sarah didn’t dare look at and that manifested into all of Jess’s late life problems. Since the horrors of their childhood took place, Sarah has always had to help Jess in every situation; often saving her from her own personal demons. When Jess decides to head into Japan’s Aokigahara Forest (one of the most well-known places for suicides), Sarah must come to her aid once again before she does something she can’t come back from. Finding her sister will prove to be difficult, however, as the forest is deep, dark, and full of supernatural forces that attempt to swallow Sarah whole before she can escape with her own life, let alone her sister’s as well.

This film immediately jumps into the meat of the story, not giving any background for the characters and leaving you completely uninterested in what could potentially happen to these people. A few minutes into the film, when Sarah is at a Japanese hotel bar chatting up a stranger, I had already forgotten that she was married because the writers and director decided there was no time to waste. I will say that throughout the film they do try to backtrack and give you some of the history of the characters through past scenes and pictures but it’s too little too late as you’ve already surrendered to the fact that these people do not feel authentic. That’s not the only time the creators forgot how to develop realistic characters as Sarah befriends that stranger I mentioned before, Aiden (Kinney), who is an American working as a travel writer in Australia coming to Japan to do a story on the forest. He’s also a huge Sarah Teasdale fan, apparently. Everything about everyone in this movie just feels forced and it caused me to despise everyone on the screen.


If you’ve ever wanted to play the most dangerous drinking game of all-time, take a shot every time Natalie Dormer asks a question in this movie. I may be exaggerating but it felt like 90% of her dialogue was asking things like, “What’s this? Who are you? Where are we? What are we doing?” She’s the most clueless, naive character in the history of horror movies that they eventually mentally unravel despite nothing really all that bad ever happening to her (yes, there’s the horrors that took place when she was a kid, but she didn’t see anything and was lied to about what actually happened). Before entering the forest, Sarah is also warned that nothing you see is real; it’s your mind playing tricks on you. Despite often repeating this throughout the film, Sarah still falls for every little thing that happens to her in the forest, believing it to be true and causing her to turn on Aiden — the one person who keeps trying to help her.

There are fun scenes that offer unexpected laughs, like when Aiden saves her after falling into a deep pit where spirits try to break and attack her and she says, “Let me go wash up before we continue on.” You know, because when you’re lost in the woods and ghosts are talking to you you may have the urge to take a bath in the river. Don’t forget about the fact that she tells every stranger she meets, “I’m looking for my identical sister,” and then shows them a photo as opposed to, ya know, saying, “She looks exactly like me”.

The whole film is a ridiculous, unbelievable set of scenes that don’t scare the audience but instead come off as pathetic and embarrassing. Everything is too convenient, the characters don’t react in any realistic way to anything that happens to and around them, and you find yourself waiting for the end credits so you can start watching something else. The Aokigahara Forest is a terrifying, real place that should serve as a tense setting for a horror movie, unfortunately this is what we were given.





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