Sunday, 10 January, 2016

Great idea for horror film gets lost in 'The Forest'

The Forest
David Chambers | 09 January, 2016, 05:32

There are two saving graces of the film, with one of them being a male journalist Sara befriends, that to the surprise of no one, sticks along with her for the exploration/investigation as a courageous effort to earn her affection. Then came waitressing and data entry for the better part of a year.

Into the woods she goes, and what she finds is truly frightening.

For a movie that spends so much time talking about psychology, "The Forest" seems awfully willing to settle for easy scares. She even does the miraculous and makes some knucklescraping decisions more like stubbornness than foolishness.

Also, since it's a hot topic with modern mainstream filmmaking, I'd like to mention that, yes, it is nice that The Forest doesn't whitewash its admittedly few Japanese personalities for Western actors, but at the end of the day it really doesn't make a difference; the movie still isn't very good.

Michael Phillips from the Chicago Tribune, gave it a 50 score, saying: "For the record, Gus Van Sant recently made "The Sea of Trees", set in the same infamous suicide forest, starring Matthew McConaughey and Ken Watanabe". Authorities have given up hope of finding Jess alive after they learn that she disappeared in Aokigahara Forest, also known as Japan's suicide forest. People go there to kill themselves. The actual payoff of this character arc of repression and doomed sisterly love would have been much more effective if Sara and Jess' interaction wasn't reduced to a single flashback, or if these complementary characters were explored with the kind of nuance and sophistication rarely found in January releases. You're a twin, and there was a awful childhood trauma.

With the Game of Thrones diaspora spreading ever further into movies of varying quality, Dormer's casting here is fascinating. "You're watching the unraveling of a human psyche". I forgot it was a movie and jumped during the screening. It was that point in my career, where I realized I never did a long form film, but wanted to wait for the right project. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and watch him on the weekly YouTube series Most Craved and What the Flick.

One of the real standouts of The Forest is Natalie Dormer herself. Dormer felt it was necessary to personally visit Aokigahara while she was in Japan. From spooky children whose faces transform into monsters to a third act twist involving repressed childhood memories, The Forest is bursting with familiar ideas blended together the same way they've been used countless times before in a vain attempt to create something that feels new without actually offering anything unique. They have a lot of superstition and respect attached to it; it has a checkered history. Before she even leaves the city Jess gets the heebie-jeebies from a still twitching, bisected prawn served up at a sushi bar, assaultive old people, and diabolical schoolgirls in uniforms. "People do walk into the forest with no intention of walking out again". She's just a fantastic person. "But I play her as a morally honest being". Perhaps these unseen entities' goal is to bore her to death through mindless repetition, an apt conclusion considering that's precisely what viewers who cough up dough to see this mess likewise endure. Flirt with a weirdly surly guy named Aiden at my hotel, despite the fact that he's practically wearing a T-shirt that says: "I Am Trouble, You Guys". I also enjoyed the video of her kissing Jennifer Lawrence! Filming a movie and watching it are two completely different things.

It isn't messing around and, at least thanks to Dormer, it plays its seriousness seriously. She co-wrote the thriller with her fiance Anthony Byrne, who will direct the movie in London soon with Dormer playing the blind woman at its center. But that's not what she's most excited about.