THE FOREST (2016) – A film based around Aokigahara

The Forest (2016 film) starring Natalie Dormer

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

There are few documentaries on the 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 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.

The storyline of 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 the 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 sisters 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.

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She takes the help of a local guide Michi and a travel journalist named Aiden from Australia to discover the truth behind her sister’s disappearance. As she enters the forest and decides to spend the night waiting for her sister, she starts experiencing 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 does not help the film is that it does not have enough chill barring a few jump scares. The writing is very sloppy and probably there could have been a little more backstory other than the troubled childhood of the principal character.

Nevertheless, the forestland offers great visuals that have been used by many filmmakers in bringing in elements of suspense and instilling scare. Probably, director Jason Zada could have used the environment more intelligently.

Besides, 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 the role of 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 halfway onwards becomes predictable and routine.

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Watch THE FOREST movie trailer

THE FOREST is now available for streaming on multiple streaming platforms. If you have watched this film, please send us your feedback in the comment section below.

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

Where to watch The Forest (2016)
This post is written, edited and published by the Cinecelluloid staff.

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