The majority of the story is set in and around the Aokigahara Forest, a forest at the northwest base of Mount Fuji in Japan known as a popular destination for suicide. Sara Price (Natalie Dormer), an American woman, receives a phone call from the Japanese police telling her that they think her troubled twin sister Jess Price (also Dormer) is dead, as she was seen going into Aokigahara forest. Despite the concerns of her fiance, Rob, she journeys to Japan and arrives at the hotel where her sister was staying. At her hotel, Sara meets a reporter named Aiden. They drink together, and she tells him of her parents' death. In reality, her father killed her mother, then committed suicide, but she tells him they were killed by a drunk driver. Her sister saw the bodies, but she didn't look. Aiden invites her to go into the forest with him and a park guide, Michi, so she can look for her sister..
It was obvious that, sooner or later, someone was going to make a film about the legendary forest of Aokigahara, widely known as "the Suicide Forest" due to the big quantity of persons who commit that act there (between 50 and 100 each year, even though the Japanese government doesn't announce the total numbers anymore in order to reduce the fame of that site), maybe inspired by the book The Complete Suicide Manual, which recommended it as an ideal place to do that. But, well... leaving its origin aside, the subject is undoubtedly fascinating and disturbing. Pity that the film The Forest wasn't able to do anything interesting with it. From the beginning, The Forest displays many elements copied in the same degree from the old J-Horror and the Hollywood horror (strident music, nightmares, faces deformed digitally, etc.). And with those visual clichés and cheap thrills, The Forest advances until leading to an unnecessary twist which is more irritating than surprising, due to the arbitrary manipulation of events which doesn't even adequately solve the "mystery" of the damned forest. Another problem is the main character's characterization. As we can suppose, she's completely skeptical on the beginning before the warnings of the supernatural entities inhabiting the forest; her purpose is finding her twin sister, and she won't let any local superstitions to interfere in her mission. But she almost immediately recognizes the fact that, effectively, the uncountable suicides created a malignant atmosphere in the forest, and not everything is like it seems. And then, she stops believing, thinking that everything has a natural explanation. And then, she believes in ghosts again. And then, she doesn't. And then, she does. And that's how things proceed until I couldn't care less about the final answer, which ended up being irrelevant anyway, because of the previously mentioned twist. On the positive side, actress Natalie Dormer makes a good work in the dual role of Sara and Jesse, displaying equal credibility in the suspense sequences and the dramatic scenes she shares with her "sister" or the gallant in turn. And the forest in which most of the movie was shot (located in Serbia) is undoubtedly lugubrious and threatening, unlike the squalid Czech forests we have frequently see in similar horror films; pity that there are too many scenes in almost total darkness which avoid us from appreciating the most dismal details. In conclusion, I liked Dormer's performance and the Serbian locations, but I found The Forest a boring and uninteresting film in spite of that, and I can't recommend it.
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