The Forest (2016) – A film based around Aokigahara

The Forest (2016 film) starring Natalie Dormer

THE FOREST is an American supernatural horror-thriller film based on the disreputable Japanese suicide forest known as Aokigahara. However, it never delves deep into the story behind the forest but the tale of twin-sister – one of whom is missing in the forest.

There are few documentaries on the infamous suicide forest in Japan and has been a subject of interest for filmmakers and authors. I first saw a documentary produced by VICE and then had read about the place i.e. located on Mount Fuji. It is also known as Jukai means “Sea of Trees”, as it is very dense and dark.

Here the film is based on the same location that has its place in Japanese mythology. It is believed to be the home to yurei or ghosts. The film in bits has shown some facts, such as the annual body count which is conducted by the local authority; and involvement of local people in finding the bodies.

Well, as far as the film is concerned, it never goes deep into the mythic side of the forest; it simply tries to tell a story involving twin-sister one of whom is missing in the jungle.

Sara (Natalie Dormer), a young American woman, travels to Japan in search of her twin sister Jesse who goes missing in the legendary Aokigahara Forest. Sara believes that her sister is alive but as per locals it’s unlikely for anyone to come out of the forest alive. She takes help of a local guide Michi and a travel journalist from Australia named Aiden in discovering the truth behind her sister’s disappearance. As she enters the forest and decides to spend the night waiting for her sister, she has to experience the darker side of the forest by facing the tormented souls of the dead that feed on anyone who wanders into the forest.

So, what really does not help the film is that it does not have enough chill barring few jumpscares. The writing is very sloppy and probably there could have been a little more backstory other than the troubled childhood of the principal character. The forest environment offers great visuals and has been used by many filmmakers in bringing in the suspense and scary elements, but somehow this film here fails in capitalizing on that. Also the horror scenes inside the forest have references from Japanese folklore but somehow lack imagery and visualization.

Natalie Dormer has done a decent job in playing Sara but we don’t see the other personality in playing her sister Jesse. Although Jesse comes in the final scene, the surprise never really is the ideal ending when everything from the half way onwards becomes predictable and routine.

Watch the trailer – The Forest

THE FOREST is available on Amazon Prime Video. If you have watched this film, please send us your comments and opinion.

Director: Jason Zada
Starring: Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney, Yukiyoshi Ozawa, Eoin Macken
Genre: Horror
Release Year: 2016



This post has been written, edited and published by the Cinecelluloid editorial team.

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