Cinematic Releases: The Forest

natalie dormer

PG-13 horror once again makes its way to cinemas at the wrong time of year. 

natalie dormer
Man, Natalie! You're really bad
at hide and seek. I'm right behind you.
At the tail end of the holiday movie rush comes the horror film, The Forest. What would have killed at the box office come Halloween release season is sadly relegated to doing battle with box office champ The Force Awakens and the nationwide release of The Revenant. Unfortunately, Jason Zada's little horror flick doesn't stand a chance. 

Played like a tribute to other stylistic genre entries like The Ring and The Grudge mixed with a fair amount of Blair Witch thrown in for good measure, this Natalie Dormer vehicle can never live up to the wicked charms of those previous box office efforts. The Forest is a fair to middling cinematic excursion into the mediocre scares that quite often ruin PG-13 domestic horror offerings. With tons of expected jump scares, very little original content, and a heaping pile of ideas ripped from the Japanese movies that so obviously inspired this knock off, The Forest can't seem find its own way through the trees. 

Although it breaks no new ground whatsoever, Natalie Dormer does her best with the little bit of material she's given to work with. With a script borrowed directly from its influences, Natalie at least tries to chew on the little bit of meat they throw her way. Unfortunately for her, the bones are already stripped clean. Sadly, most of the screenplay feels far too similar and weighted by the familiarity of the lonesome haunted woods that just may hold a hidden evil force. As she trounces through the darkness and dimly lit forest, she's supported by actor Taylor Kinney's character Aiden, who does nearly nothing to add to the already simplistic script. Their acting is just okay considering the short sighted screenplay. 

natalie dormer
This fog keeps rolling in just at the
right times. How does that
keep happening? Amazing. 
While some have complained about the movie's whitewashing characteristics of setting two Americans in the Japanese "suicide forest" of Aokigahara, it totally suits the story at hand. In real life, Japanese people go to this forest at the base of Mt. Fuji to commit suicide. In 2002 alone,  78 people went there and took their own lives. It's said that the forest is haunted by yurei (Japanese ghosts). Sadly for the makers of this movie, their story falls shy of the reality that exists in this mystical forest. With a little more effort put into shaping their mythology and more time expended on creating a better crafted tale of terror, this "Sea of Trees" (as it's called) could make for a truly horrifying feature film.

I can't say that I hated this. It's not a train wreck by any means. It's just not that good. There are just enough freaky moments to make it mildly interesting at times and Dormer really tries to maximize on her talents with her first leading role in a major release. If you're a horror junkie like me, you'll take issue with the limitations that the PG-13 places on The Forest. If this were an R, it would have been a lot better. It may not be saying much, but this is still a better movie than The Green Inferno