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(I) (2016)

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The Forest has a creepy enough atmosphere, but it's not enough to make up for the confused plot and lack of scares.
lnvicta28 March 2016
I had my eye on this movie since it came out earlier this year. It was a January release so I was in no rush to see it, but it had a genuinely cool premise: looking for someone in the suicide forest, which is an actual place in Japan where people go to commit suicide. It's pretty unsettling. In the movie, it's said that the forest compels people to kill themselves due to supernatural forces or vengeful spirits. The Forest focuses on Sara, whose sister has gone missing in said forest, and Sara's desperate endeavors to find her sister despite the evidence pointing to her being dead. Up until about the 30-minute mark, I was on board. The pieces were set, the exposition was established, and the characters (Sara, her journalist friend Aiden, and a tour guide) were finally heading into the forest. Again, the atmosphere is creepy throughout. The director clearly has a grasp on how to build tension.

The problem is that the promising build ups lead to zero payoffs. There are handful of cheap jump scares, a couple of which admittedly shocked me but only momentarily. Once the initial shock wore off seconds later I was in the same state of mind as before. Effective jump scares linger for a while; they imbue dread and usually add something to the narrative. The jump scares here are your typical, "Boo! Something's behind you!", which are easy to shrug off. Also, once they're in the forest, the characters make some decisions that are unfathomably stupid and out-of-character. Like, the main point of the forest is that it makes you think you see things, a psychedelic effect if you will. So after Sara receives this crucial information, she runs after the first thing she sees scurrying around in the forest. While it's pitch black, mind you. It completely takes you out of the movie and makes you lose all empathy for the characters for putting themselves in these avoidable situations.

Also, The Forest focuses more on the bond between Sara and her sister than the actual forest. So there are plenty of flashbacks, dream sequences, all that garbage that just muddles the fact that, hey, this forest is really f*cking scary. Why not focus on the forest instead of forcing character development, if you can even call it that? It makes no sense. Also, there's nothing we haven't seen before. People being hung? First scene in Sinister. Claustrophobic underground tunnels? The Descent. The only thing that makes the movie unique is the actual setting which is used as a backdrop more than anything.

The acting is good, as is the premise, but the potential littered within this movie is never fully realized. The director can definitely creep you out but he'll need a better script if he wants to make a truly great movie. The Forest just leaves you feeling hollow and disappointed.
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The Forest (2016)
samgiannn10 January 2016
Japan's Aokigahara "Suicide Forest" by itself is a creepy and gruesome place because of its reputation as one of the most notorious suicide spots in the world as well as its historic association with demons in Japanese mythology. Its inherently scary atmosphere is perfect for a good horror movie, but The Forest mostly squanders its promise by degrading it to a hot spot for cheap jump scares. The Forest stars Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer in a dual role as twins Jess and Sara. Jess has disappeared into the forest, and Sara travels to Japan to go into the forest to look for her, unaware of the demons that lurk in the forest. The film has a pretty interesting premise and could have worked if executed correctly. 2014's As Above, So Below took an intrinsically creepy setting, the Paris catacombs, and used an unsettling atmosphere and good scares to make one of the better horror films of that year. The Forest does not use its setting to its advantage. Any atmosphere created by the forest is frittered away by a dull jump scare. Despite all the loud noises and sudden shocks, the scares are just boring. That could have been helped by a good story, but once Sara actually reaches the forest, the plot just sort of stops. The last half of the movie is just her running through the forest while demons pop out from behind the trees. It's not until the end that the plot decides to move forward any more, but by the time the big twist happens, you don't really care. The Forest has a committed performance from Natalie Dormer and glimmers of an interesting movie but mostly wastes them on predictable jump scares and a bland story.
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Initially looks to develop both its characters and its setting, but settles for mediocrity in the end
StevePulaski9 January 2016
Upon seeing Jason Zada's "The Forest," I feel like I'm at a point of indifference I have never been at before when it comes to watching and reviewing films. Normally, I emerge from films eager to talk about some aspect, or feel empowered to emphasize details or things in the film I wouldn't have thought general audiences might have noticed themselves. With "The Forest," I emerge with depressingly little to talk about. It's become far too common to kick off a new year with an underwhelming horror film (2012 had "The Devil Inside," 2013 had "Texas Chainsaw 3D," 2014 had "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones," and 2015 had "The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death"), and if nothing else, that seems to be the only constant in American cinema alongside with a surefire hurricane of blockbusters starting in May and continuing through July).

"The Forest" is set in the Aokigahara Forest, located in Japan's sacred Mount Fuji. It is a forest that was once known as the place where family members would leave sick, crippled, or disabled loved ones to die during times of famine and war, and in present day, is a popular suicide location. We focus on Sara Price (Natalie Dormer), a young woman who gets a call from the Japanese police telling her that her missing twin sister Jess (also played by Dormer) is dead after she was seen going into the Aokigahara Forest. Knowing her sister all too well, and knowing that she is unstable but not suicidal, Sara commits to flying halfway across the world to try and find her, as a strong part of her believes she is still alive.

Sara's belief is only strengthened when she sees that the body discovered is not Jess, leading her to believe that her sister is still somewhere deep in the forest. At a bar one night, she meets an Australian reporter named Aiden (Taylor Kinney), who decides to do a story on her and her quest to find her sister. She tells him how Jess was always the one that looked toward danger, when she turned her head; she recalls when their parents were killed by a drunk driver and how Jess saw the bodies while she closed her eyes. The next morning, the two venture into Aokigahara with a park ranger named Michi (Yukiyoshi Ozawa), in efforts to try and find Jess.

The idea of the forest, as explained in very disjointed and vague manners by the locals throughout the course of the film, is that if there is an inkling of sadness in your heart upon entering Aokigahara, it will be exploited through things that you will see in the forest to the point where you'll believe the only way out is suicide. Michi explains to Sara upon entering deep into the woods that anything she sees from here on out is a result of hallucinations and her own mind playing tricks on her. The natural world leaves as soon as you abandon the trail of the forest.

"The Forest" is marginally effective in creating atmosphere, especially during the late night and early morning scenes when the forest becomes less a collection of trees, branches, and leaves and more of an abstract maze. The issue the film has is rooted in the screenplay, penned by Nick Antosca, Sarah Cornwell, and Ben Ketai. In order for the character relationships and the setting to be simultaneously successful, or at the very least harmonious, they need to be equally developed. Initially, the trio of screenwriters do this right by giving Sara enough time before she has to go in the forest to allow her personality to be open to us to get to know. We get to know about her and her sister's backstory after she meets Aiden and we get a hold on their characters quite nicely.

The problem is that once Sara, Aiden, and Michi go in the forest, the focus should shift on the forest being the character in the film, which it really isn't. Nothing about this forest feels that eerie, except for the music and the jumpscares we experience when we are immersed into it. The feeling of being trapped in the forest with the characters is there, since there is no cutting to a search party or Sara's fiancé, but there is still no real involvement or characteristic with this forest aside from ropes and the occasionally successful jolt.

Because of this, "The Forest" grows repetitive, and at the end of it all, we have a conclusion that doesn't answer any of our questions about who Jess is as a person and why she would have wanted to go into these woods in the first place. This is especially frustrating since, from the beginning, Zada and company make it seem like they will develop the story in a manner that's focused on the characters, only to leave the most intriguing soul of the entire film undeveloped in her motivations and her intentions.

Well-shot, but lacking sustenance and the graceful blend of character and location, "The Forest" is a mediocre horror film, though its PG-13 makes it perfectly acceptable for the middle school/high school crowd to experience a Friday night scare. It's a bit humorous to think that the path the film took is the same the film's characters took upon entering Aokigahara. Instead of following the path that would've keep them safe (the filmmakers keeping both the characters and the location in mind), they took a wrong turn and ended up losing themselves in a sea of unfortunate circumstances.
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not that bad
parrisjim20 January 2016
As far as horror movies goes this one is not bad..The theme of the suicide forest is intriguing.The stranger in a strange land them works well here.the film avoids most of the horror clichés.

It has plenty of creepy moments and you'll jump a few times.The production is high and Natalie Dormer gives a good twist on the scream queen ..Her character is not dumb repeating cliché lines and behavior..The questions that run though your head her character answers.The film has a dark ending and is not fairy tale at all..I don't understand why its so poorly rated its not that bad...its a good scary movie.....
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Not terrible, but could have been better
DarkVulcan2913 January 2016
Natalie Dormer plays a woman who is searching for her twin sister(also Dormer) who has gone missing in Japan, last seen in a forest where everybody seems to die, but she is determined to find her no matter what, but will she find her, or will the forest drive her insane?

The film does have some good scares, and Natalie Dormer does give it her all here. But the story itself feels to cut down, and actors like Taylor Kinney who play it so bland, he just does not have much to work with. The movie tries to hard and it shows, the ending does not leave much to be explained. All in all, it could have been better. Just don't leave much to enjoy all of it.
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5.5 is right on the money - no spoilers here.
torchos9 January 2016
5.5 I would say is right on the money. Not academy material but good for a couple of jump scares. Just saw the movie tonight. First jump scare was so good lady next to me spilled her full bag of popcorn and tipped over her drink...we laughed and laughed...then the usher came.

I had the movie pegged to go in another direction but I guess the joke was on me, and everyone I was with thought the movie was going in the same direction I thought, so it was pleasant surprise that it was not that predictable.

Overall 5.5 is good, watchable, scary enough. More psychological than it was Horror or Terror.

It was a little light on the Horror, and there was 1 single plot line, but still enjoyed it.
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Overall good, but not enough flavor on the surface for more than just a so so ghost story!
subxerogravity8 January 2016
As a whole the movie works and is very satisfying. It's like a joke that seems to have a weak set up that's made up for with a hilarious punchline, but waiting for the punchline to come in a feature film can be dull.

It's not like pulling teeth dull or anything like that, It is a good story. It really does not hurt that Natalie Dormer is fun to look at for an hour or two as she plays a woman looking for her twin sister who entered a forest in Japan known to attract those who want to commit suicide and never comes out. For those of you not into Dormer, Taylor Kinney is in it as well as a reporter trying to help, but has his own agenda. If you you don't like either actor that will be a problem cause for the most part it's the two of them in the woods for the majority of the film.

It's not as scary or frightening as I hoped for. The disturbing images did the trick, but it did not get my heart jumping like I expected, but it feels like the overall story is what is supposed to haunt you. I get it but I'm not all that impressed.
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Finally a thriller that gave me goosebumps!
EliasDale13 June 2016
I love scary movies and there are very few newcomer movies that do it right... Lately movies only scare people because of the cheap sound effects and stuff. This one finally gave me goosebumps. Specially at the last seconds of the movie.

Great movie, I don't understand why it has so low ratings from the critics. I agree that it's not the best thriller ever made, but it's a good movie in my opinion.

As also someone in a review commented if you think about it the movie could have different meanings. Like mental illness. I don't know, you should watch it. It's more a psychological thriller than anything. Just don't except supernatural creatures attacking and killing people, then you'll be let down.

Why I didn't give 10 out of 10: 1. It basically rips off from the Vice documentary "Suicide Forest in Japan". You can see a yellow tent in the movie too, you have a guide person, you can see other things that look very alike. Of course since it's based on a local story in Japan, but they could have made another creative choices by their own instead of ripping off. Less points for that. 2. There are some things that feel unrealistic in terms of what the actors do, can't write this without spoiling but yeah. Some things could have been better worked out. 3. I got goosebumps and the end, but at the same time it could have a better ending when the movie at times feels a little slow. Would be nice to take some flow pace from the beginning and rather use some extra time for the ending. I'll take this back if this movie gets a sequel though.
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Creepy, well paced, but missing something.
ryanpaul457 January 2016
Creepy, but something is missing here.

The Forest is about a young woman (Sarah) who goes into Aokigahara, which is also known as the Suicide Forest, to search for her sister, Jess. Both played by Natalie Dormer. The movie looked creepy enough to get me intrigued. After leaving the movie, I couldn't help but feel like it was missing something.. It felt as if it had a sub-plot written, but was cut before filming. A few of the CGI effects were kinda lame, like when little girls faces turn all ghostly, but the movie does have some good scares. There is a good enough story to keep you interested from start to finish, and a pretty decent, twisted ending. The Forest is creepy, well, paced, and has good tension, but felt was missing a chunk of the film.
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Not as cliché as I thought
lrkoop8 January 2016
I thought this movie would suck, so me and my friend went to see it (mainly to make fun of anything we could). We ended up making fun of the movie because we were scared. It messed with our brains and made us question what was real and what wasn't in the movie. The movie got a lot of jumps on me, and even a few blood-curtailing screams. The Forest was so much fun to watch and the audience never knew what to expect. I would definitely see it again, and I am most certainly buying the movie the day it comes out on DVD. The movie was not as expected and I adored the heck out of it. Good story, great acting, great job messing with the audience.
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"The Forest" tells us not to stray from the path, but you'll be glad that this film does.
dave-mcclain11 January 2016
The woods can be a very scary place. When I was in college, one of my friends talked me into going for a nighttime walk which led us into an old cemetery filled with trees. When we reached the middle of the cemetery, a tall figure which seemed to have no face stepped out from behind a tree and groaned like a ghost. I had run about half-way back towards the cemetery entrance before I heard people laughing hysterically. The "ghost" removed the gray hood from his head and my friends and I had a good laugh about the whole incident as we walked back to the campus. If it turns out there's no real danger, it can be fun to be scared. If you're in an actual haunted forest, not so much. A deep, dark forest with many reasons to fear it is the primary setting for the horror thriller "The Forest" (PG-13, 1:35).

Jess and Sara Price (both played by Natalie Dormer) are twins, but are identical in looks only. Sara is the responsible one, while Jess is a free spirit who often makes poor choices – and who has a dark side. Not long after Jess takes a job teaching English in Japan, she goes missing. Whether Jess wanted to disappear or whether something bad happened to her, Sara, who believes twins have a spiritual connection, senses that Jess needs her, so Sara flies to Japan.

Reportedly, Jess was last seen entering Aokigahara Forest. Covering 14 square miles at the base of Mount Fuji, the forest is dense and foreboding – and not just because of the tall trees and difficult terrain. The locals say that previous generations of poor Japanese brought their sick and elderly residents into the forest and left them to die. According to Japanese folklore, the spirits of people who die suddenly, are murdered or don't have the proper funeral rites performed, remain in the physical realm to haunt the living. That would make this forest a less-than-desirable place to, say… have a family picnic. It doesn't help matters that, for decades, Aokigahara Forest has been a popular location for people committing suicide. Still, tourists without a death wish do choose to visit this place. Sara… has to.

Not knowing the language, the customs or the terrain, and not knowing what to believe about the forest, all make Sara's search pretty challenging. She attempts to retrace her twin sister's steps, but when she gets out to the forest, the people at the visitor's center treat her with a strange combination of politeness, callousness and fear. Sara is determined to go into the forest looking for her sister, but is warned repeatedly "Do Not Leave the Path". In her hotel, Sara meets an Australian journalist named Aiden (Taylor Kinney) who offers to get her together with a local guide in exchange for her story.

Michi (Yukiyoshi Ozawa) reluctantly agrees to let Sara tag along with him and Aiden as Michi searches for bodies of people who recently committed suicide in the forest. Michi doesn't seem especially superstitious until Sara finds a recently occupied tent that she believes belongs to Jess and decides to spend the night in the forest. Michi tells her that the forest, especially after dark, can make you see things – and even make you do things – "very bad things". Sara is undeterred, so Aiden decides to stay with her. In order to avoid spoilers, all I'll say further is that over the ensuing hours, Sara's quest to find her sister gets more complicated and scarier… and when Michi returns, he finds an empty tent.

"The Forest" is an original and entertaining horror movie. It's not a slasher flick – more like a creepy and sometimes scary supernatural thriller. Think of it as a combination of "The Amityville Horror", "The Descent" and "The Grudge". I'm not sure what's so scary about Japanese schoolgirls, but this movie makes good use of them, as well as visions of various deceased individuals, who have a more self-evident fright factor. First-time feature film director Jason Zada gives us enough scary images (a few of which might make some Movie Fans jump in their seats) to qualify this as a horror film, but it's effectiveness lies in what you don't see – and don't know about the characters and their surroundings.

Every movie of this type has its surprises and twists, but Zada doesn't overdo anything and the reveals he does put forward feel organic. In that sense, the film uses the common pitfalls of the genre in its favor, as we are on the lookout for cheap tricks which aren't there. This film also lays the groundwork for its plot more thoroughly and contains plot points, dialog and acting, that are all better than you find in most horror movies. I did spot a couple minor plot holes that I wish had been fixed up and a couple plot points that I wish had been clearer, but this is still an above average horror thriller that you'll be glad has the guts to stray from its genre's well-worn paths. "B+"
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Neither bad enough to be completely dismissed nor good enough to warrant serious consideration, "The Forest" is a wholly mediocre experience...
An idea can be a powerful thing. Especially when explored well and thoroughly.

And indeed a horror-film based around the famous (and infamous) Aokigaha Forest of Japan is a powerful idea, filled to the brim with endless potential for drama and sheer ghostly thrills.

The problem is... even a great idea can falter and disappoint when mishandled and when not explored properly. Which is sadly the case with the 2016 horror-flick "The Forest."

It's a movie with a great idea behind it... that sadly falls just short of being anything special due to an over-reliance on generic jump-scares, abbreviated story development and occasional convolution in its storytelling. And while it's definitely not a terrible film, its inability to elevate itself beyond the level of "mediocre" is most definitely its greatest fault. It's neither bad enough to become unintentionally entertaining or be dismissed, yet also not good enough to warrant serious consideration from anyone except the most desperate horror fans looking for a quick-fix of the creeps. It's merely a "meh" movie with nothing special to set it apart.

The film follows American Sara Price (Natalie Dormer), who is informed that her twin-sister Jess has vanished into Japan's Aokigahara Forst- a vast forest at the base of Mount Fuji, well- known for the numerous suicides to have occurred deep within. Unable to believe her sister is dead due to their deep and complex connection as twins, Sara ventures into the forest with reporter Aiden (Taylor Kinney) in hopes of finding her before the dark forces surrounding them claim her very soul...

The fundamental issue with the film is that the idea- an intriguing one- is mishandled. In the hands of a better storyteller, this set- up would hold much promise. But director Jason Zada and the screenwriters seem scared to try anything new beyond "throw in a few eerie establishing shots and then have something jump out in front of the camera every 10 minutes." It feels very stock and clichéd with its over-reliance on jump-scares and a distinct lack of atmosphere building in many scenes.

Not that I can only blame the director and writers, because it is pretty darned obvious watching the film that there was a fair amount of studio-meddling. Particularly in the first 10 minutes... a prolonged montage of events that clearly were a heavily-abbreviated versions of a much larger sequence, and just stank of "a producer thought the scene was boring and made them edit it down to a break- neck pace." (As happens all too often.)

That being said, the film isn't a total loss. The storyline definitely has its moments, and its fun trying to figure out where things will end up. Dormer is a charming enough lead. And even though the scares routinely rely on cheap jumps, there is a few genuinely startling moments of atmosphere peppered in that will generate an honest thrill or two. (Including one well-executed sequence involving the body of a hanged man stalking our hero, and a few moments where the characters are completely surrounded by spirits in very fun shots that have a great tone of oppression.) And sue me... I liked the idea behind the ending, even if its execution was a bit too fast. (Though I will not spoil it here.)

Overall, "The Forest" is nothing more than a middle-of-the-road thriller. I can't recommend it (thank god I didn't have to pay for my ticket), but I also can't NOT recommend it. It's the sort-of film that would be worth checking out on cable or Netflix for free on a slow rainy afternoon. Good for a laugh and maybe a jump or two... but nothing more.

I give it a VERY average 5 out of 10. If you're a horror fan and happen to catch it on TV, by all means give it a shot. But don't make it a priority.
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Hanging on the verge of mediocrity, "The Forest" is a resident of old horror spectacle.
quincytheodore8 January 2016
Aokigahara, otherwise known as Suicide Forest, literally writes its own stories. It's a place where people go to end their lives, a real life horror vista which has haunted many documentaries and videos. As creepy as the setting is, The Forest is still trapped on archaic horror gimmicks. It doesn't mean it has no merit, few of its moments are quite delightful, yet it spends most of the time wandering across predictable set-ups and mundane scares.

Sara (Natalie Dormer) goes to Japan to find her missing twin sister Jess (also Natalie Dormer). The search leads her to Aokigahara, the infamous forest. Unfazed by this revelation, Sara is still determined to search for her, almost stubbornly so. Natalie Dormer of Game of Thrones' fame is definitely a draw as this is a different genre than her other works. She does put in the effort, her strong motivation persists although the character is stuck on typical scream queen stereotype.

It's insane how many times her character randomly strolls to dark corners or investigates weird occurrence alone even though ample warnings have been given. These are actions common sense would dictate as unwise, especially on a place called Suicide Forest, yet she performs them blindly anyway. It's pretty over saturated that the excuse of her being in trance because hypnotic forest made her do it is not sufficient anymore.

There are some good moments that are chilling and well presented, it even occasionally ventures to psychological perspective of the ordeal. However, the movie usually returns to average scares of oriental horror such as vague ominous warning or lost girl in peculiar outfit. It's a rigid showcase of horror, one that's been used since the days of Ju-On and arguably even before that.

While the draw of exotic location and appealing lead actress might interest visitors, they would only find basic horror in The Forest.
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Another great movie that was victimized....
flitz35-633-62765016 February 2016
This movie was created by a first time director and very good but not that known actors. With that being said I loved it and didn't judge it before hand. The critics judge the movie unfairly. If it was a Hollywood powerful director and known actors that are influential then The Forest would of got a fair shake.

Which watching The Forest I couldn't stop watching it for a second and that's rare with horror movies. Instead because this movie was done by unknowns it should of been praised. But like life Hollywood is unfair and critics make most of there money from powerful Hollywood people not giving good reviews where they are warranted like in The Forest.
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A familiar yet original marriage of Eastern and Western horror
BloodGuts18 February 2016
THE FOREST is a surprising treat that not only has some star turns from Dormer (yes, multiple roles for the GAME OF THRONES and THE TUDORS star) but holds a story of a desperate struggle that keeps you enticed until the very end.

When news of her twin sister, Jess (Natalie Dormer) has gone missing reaches Sarah (Natalie Dormer) she heads to Japan to seek the truth to her disappearance. Learning she was last seen heading towards the infamous suicide hotspot of Aokigahara Forest, the worst is feared and Sarah racing against time, must protect not only her sister, but her sanity against what the forest has to offer.

What is refreshing about THE FOREST is its authenticity to tell a story of a foreign place and share that with the audience. Sarah's isolated journey is only shared by a journalist who latches onto the native tongue of the lead, encouraging her search to much dismay.

In a time when American remakes of Eastern classics have become a somewhat throwaway instant cash grab for movie studios, it's rewarding to see a film where the eastern influence and American experience of the film-makers is shared bringing something original yet familiar to the market. Rather than taking a story and rebranding it as English language, the screenwriters take inspiration and play a stranger in a strange land, an experience felt by the audience and stars alike. While the film shares much in tone with other eastern features such as TALE OF TWO SISTERS or ACACIA where the real scares are the psychological human emotions rather than the ghosts beyond the trees.

Natalie Dormer first lead role proves once more she is a powerhouse of an actress playing both of the twins to good effect. Her performance as Sarah carries the film and her believable performance drives the emotional journey to its unexpected closure.

While never straying too far from the genre's classic formula, Zada never overdoes any of the suspense or twists to an extent that even the apparition of the supernatural habitants of the forest become one with the story. The reality of a missing person and the haunting events never seem overdone or too obscure as to make the events farcical as many similar movies do so.

While the film is limited of scares, it effectively invents itself as a American/Eastern hybrid that marries both cultures to great effect. Its J-Horror influence will be familiar with any movie goer familiar with the genres ability to share a darker side to humanity released in the form of the supernatural yet still have a lead whose western culture is unflattered by the lack of technology in a world where there seems a greater divide between nature and urban jungles.

Interestingly, Jason Zada couldn't be further away from last year's HOUSES THAT October BUILT, sharing a bigger budget, effective lighting (or lack of) and a story that hones in on the heart of its central character rather than the spirits in the forest that could have been a much scarier experience, albeit one that lacked heart. All of which is not to say THE FOREST is not without its fair share of atmosphere, making it a well packaged horror and a platform for its lead star to shine.

> Martyn Wakefield is writer and editor for BloodGuts UK Horror and has contributed over 250 reviews dedicated to the horror genre.
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Creepy and a great unexpected ending.
chloeellenjones-4645611 January 2016
I really was unsure what to expect about this movie but I have always had an interest in the Aokigahara Forest so I was intrigued. I feel the film really delivered and the beginning really created a tense creepy atmosphere. And overall it was a great movie the only things i would criticize is that in some parts it almost felt rushed but apart from that I cannot complain. I think Dormer did a great performance and it was a nice change seeing her in this kind of movie. I would really recommend this movie especially if you like a dark creepy unexpected surprising movie. I will not post spoilers about the ending but all I can say was it was very unexpected and shocking. Everything in this movie was played out great and they did Aokigahara forest justice on the scary factor.
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Waste of Horror
pranayjalvi27 February 2016
'The Forest', was it a horror film ?? Starring Natalie Dormer in dual role as Jess/Sara Price, The Forest is one of the movies in 2016 which everyone would like to leave in the forest itself. The trailer felt better and promising with Dormer in the lead but after watching the movie, I just felt that I wasted 90 minutes of my time waiting for something spooky to happen. The movie was bad as its plot line and there was nothing horror in the movie. A bad start for a horror genre movie in 2016. The best use for this forest would be to dig a hole and bury this pathetic and boring horror film to the surface. The movie deserves 1.5/10
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A chillingly effective blend of Western psychological horror with J-horror tropes, 'The Forest' juggles choice jump-in-your-seat moments with a sustained atmosphere of dread
moviexclusive6 January 2016
So slightly more than a decade after 'The Grudge', Hollywood has decided to take its own original idea to Japan – rather than the other way round – for a horror movie, though we hardly blame you for feeling sceptical about the excursion. For one, instead of casting a Japanese in the leading role, it resorts to convention to bring an American woman all the way to Tokyo and sets her up with yet another American who just happens to be in the area. For two, it calculatedly weaves a tale of fiction around the real-life Aokigahara Forest, a dense jungle at the northwest base of Mount Fuji in Japan notorious for being the most popular site for committing suicide in Japan. And yet, despite these obvious reservations, 'The Forest' is in fact a pretty decent low-budget horror, one that incorporates J-horror tropes into a surprisingly suspenseful story of psychological malaise.

Through a series of flashbacks occurring as the twenty-something year-old Sara Price (Natalie Dormer) journeys to the Land of the Rising Sun, we are told of how she has a twin sister named Jess working as a school teacher in Tokyo who has mysteriously disappeared into the titular Suicide Forest about five days ago. Convinced by her unspoken connection since young that Jess is still alive, Sara leaves her boyfriend in the States and goes alone in search of Jess – that is, even though she is warned by one of Jess' former students that her sister may very well have become one of the 'yokai' (or 'angry spirits') roaming that part of the woods. Somewhat too fortuitously, Sara runs into a reporter named Aiden (Taylor Kinney) working for an Australian travel magazine who takes an interest in her predicament and offers to let her use his guide Michi (Yukiyoshi Ozawa) to explore the forest in return for giving him permission to write about her.

As they always do, things take a turn for the worse after she steps off the beaten track – not only does she start hearing voices all around, Sara becomes disillusioned after seeing a schoolgirl who claims to carry a message from Jess not to trust Aiden. Is Aiden whom he says he is? Is he hiding some secret from Sara? Did he know Jess and if so, was he in some way responsible for her disappearance or worse death? Sara plays with these doubts in her mind even as we are teased with these same uncertainties. According to Western horror, Aiden would probably have met Jess a few days before and be at the very least linked to her fate; but as any self-respecting J- horror fan will tell you, you'll do wiser than to trust an innocent- looking schoolgirl who claims to be helpful.

Not to spoil any surprises for those intending to find out the truth on their own, but let's just say that the script credited to Ben Ketai, Sarah Cornwell and Nick Antosca does a fairly competent job of keeping you guessing right up to the very end. Oh yes, there is also a nice backstory along the way about their tragic childhood that is the reason why Sara and Jess were raised by their grandmother instead of their parents, and the connection between the age-old adage that 'it is all in your head' and exorcising one's own personal demons is a nice touch. It is equally commendable that the writers do not try to imitate M. Night Shyamalan, opting instead for an ending that carries a nice twist but doesn't pull the rug from beneath their audiences' feet.

Against a finely balanced screenplay, commercials' director Jason Zada makes a fairly successful feature filmmaking debut that juggles a sustained atmosphere of dread and foreboding with jump-in-your- seat moments, the latter in particular noteworthy for being effective even as you anticipate that something is going to go 'boo' in your face. Despite initial fears to the contrary, Zada remains culturally sensitive to the origins of his setting, treating the subject of suicide, its victims and would-be victims with utmost dignity and empathy. Deserving of mention too is 'Game of Thrones'' Dormer, who pulls off a compelling double-act as Sara and Jess, identical twins whose differing personalities have been unknowingly shaped by their experience of that tragic event from their childhood.

To be sure, 'The Forest' won't be a classic anytime soon, but you could do and could go much worse with a film like this. What starts off as a collection of clichés – whether the twin that goes in search of her missing sibling or the dreams that she has which are somehow meant to be omens or warnings of what had happened – and trite jump scares turns out to be much more by the time the credits run in this effectively brief 94-minute movie, melding the fundamental elements of J-horror with a psychological thriller that will be more familiar to audiences on a diet of Western horror. Such an East-meets-West premise could go wrong in so many ways, so it is indeed more than faint praise that 'The Forest' doesn't get lost in itself.
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Creepy, and deeply unsettling on many levels; however..
InDyingArms8 January 2016
After Sarah discovers her twin sister has disappeared into the suicide forest, she travels to Japan in hopes of finding her, after getting some help from a guy she's met, of which had clearance to take her into said forest, things take a turn for the worse as strange occurrences befall Sarah, as well as the others, turning more, and more sinister, and even deadly. First off, the story of this entire film I personally thought was neat. Having the emotional depth of knowing your close siblings missing was unique, and added impact toward this film. Making things serious, including having said sister missing in another country, let alone the deadliest place in said country is worse, adding tension, as well as some hope for the audience. Moving on; throughout this entire movie, things ended up a bit clichéd-like, in terms of the whole genre of horror. This horror movie took the clichéd route. You know when your sitting there, soaking the film in, and suddenly, for example, someone slams their face randomly against the window of your house, or say car for absolutely no reason, other than the sake to just make you jump. This movie did that a few times, for absolutely no reason, out of nowhere, something just jumps at you for the sake of scaring you. Another element, following through with that. Again, have you ever seen a horror movie to where the film tricks you to think the characters actually going through a trauma, but awakes to find out it's just a nightmare? I personally felt as if this movie overdid that quite a bit, it kept having our main character, Sarah dream of something terrifying, then awake - Once again leading the film to just throw that randomly in there for the sake of scaring us. However.. for the scares in this film to where actually made sense, they successfully succeeded in not only adding tension, but managing to be nerve racking, and completely unsettling. Dark, creepy atmosphere, as well as a tense build-up of suspense succeeded in not only making the audience paranoid, but scaring them in the process of unleashing the awaiting scare. The characters, all around, I felt did a solid job executing their characters, and what they stood for, in terms of their background stories, in-depth traits, etc., as the audience, it felt compelling to know more, and dig deeper toward the characters' personality depth, instead of keeping them vague, and randomly placed just for the sake to be killed off, as they were actually quite intriguing, and well played out.

Overall, this movie had flaws. But usually horror movies in January are red flags, showing it's bad. However. This movie was quite surprising, succeeding in some successful jump scares, but more importantly creepy, unsettling atmosphere, and an overall white- knuckled environment. Although this film took a cliché toward the constant, randomly placed jump scares, as well as dream sequences, in my opinion, it still managed to tie in necessary jump scares, so to speak. The characters were intriguing, with great back-story, and development. The film managed to tie in some thought - provoking moments that succeeded, but were answered. The film, however, not mentioned before seemed to have a bit of a mixed - unresolvable way of answering the entire film itself, making the entire thing a bit confusing, but for the most part answering needed answers to have this movie make sense. For a first weekend January horror film, this wasn't bad, but it suffered heavily clichéd plot flaws. Aside that, this was surprising! I honestly had a good time with this film, and would recommend a look toward horror fans / people who want an intriguing, unsettling time!
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Thought provoking scary film
davispittman8 January 2016
The Forest was a fun time for me and my friends that decided to go and give it a try. The actors in the movie were enjoyable and did their job well. I recall enjoyed the main actress's performance, and I enjoyed the other lead male actor's performance as well. The plot is very interesting and cool, and the execution was pretty good, not amazing, but it was pretty good. There is plenty of scary visuals for horror movie fans to enjoy, from dead bodies to ghostly figures in the dark. The jump scares were pretty well done, I jumped, so they were pretty effective. The events leading up to the ending were well paced and well done I thought. I really loved the ending, I thought it was very thought provoking and I certainly didn't expect what ended up happening in the end. 7/10 for The Forest.
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This is not a movie that will make you scream and jump, but it will affect you, make you feel a little uneasy and stay with you
cosmo_tiger22 February 2016
"We're identical twins, if she was dead I would know it." In Japan there is a forest known and the suicide forest. Sara Price (Dormer) has received a call informing her that her twin sister Jess may have killed herself in that forest. Not believing she is dead Sara travels halfway around the world to find her sister. The farther she travels into the forest searching for her sister the stranger things become. This is one of the better horror movies to come out in a while. The movie is not just slasher and actually has a real plot and the fact that the forest is real gives it that extra push it needed. The movie is psychological and deliberately paced, which adds to the overall horror aspect of the movie. This is not a movie that will make you scream and jump, but it will affect you and make you feel a little uneasy and stay with you for a few days. That is what a horror movie is supposed to do. Overall, one of the better horror movies recently and I did like it. I give this a B+.
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A Psychological Thriller with No Psychological Thrill
nahemm11 January 2016
As arguably the world's biggest Natalie Dormer fan, I went into The Forest with the mind-state of what I imagine equates to that of a worrisome parent watching their freshman son go up against varsity football players--I knew the outcome wasn't going to be good, but hopefully it wouldn't be too brutal. Much to my chagrin, this film was the equivalent of a twice-held-back, twenty-year-old middle linebacker with an anger issue, repeatedly pummeling my sweet, sweet Queen Margery into the ground. The Forest is a horror movie with no horror, as well as a psychological thriller with no psychological thrill! If you're leaving the theater saying, "Well, at least it was better than Krampus," you should probably take solace in the fact that you caught the matinée showing and saved three bucks on the ticket...

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Not that bad.
brnewlun26 February 2020
People are too negative on this film. I didn't think it was that bad. I mean everyone has their own opinions and likes but I say give it a chance. Has a good plot, twists, the ghosts were well made, graphics and makeup wise. Acting was spot on, it actually put you in their mind and made you feel what they're feeling. I'd watch it again.
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Very enjoyable movie, great scares and great acting!
jsmulikow8 January 2016
this was a hit movie for me the best i've seen so far coming from the horror genre, the location in the movie is based on true facts and history in japan based on the forest. This movie had its scares and was very scary for some of the audience, also the environment was so vast and large and beautiful for such a dark and thrilling movie! The acting was very well done for the main actors and also had myself on the edge of my seat about the main characters sister even though they were searching for her. I highly recommend this movie for people who like dark thrilling horror films with a twist. I give this movie a 8 out of 10 it was short but enough time to keep the story from dragging.
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utgard1423 May 2016
I was really looking forward to this. I have enjoyed Natalie Dormer's work in the past and the concept of a movie built around the Suicide Forest is intriguing. But, unfortunately, this wasn't good. It's never scary and rarely even feels like it tries to be. Also, I'm disappointed to say Natalie Dormer does not give one of her better turns here playing two American twins. Her accent is suspect and her performance seems forced. It's sad when a glorified male model (Taylor Kinney) gives a more natural performance than she does but that's exactly what happens here. I'm not saying it's a completely unwatchable movie. I had no problem sitting through it, even it was never particularly engaging. But it's very forgettable and left no lasting impression on me except disappointment. It's not something I can ever see myself watching again.
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