Release Date: January 8, 2016
Director: Jason Zada
Writer: Nick, Antosca, Sarah Cornwell, Ben Ketai
Cast: Natalie Dormer, Eion Macken, Stephanie Vogt, Osamu Tanpopo, Yasuo Tobishima, Ibuki Kaneda, Akiko Iwase, Kikuo Ichikawa, Noriko Sakura, Jozef Aoki, Yuho Yamashita, Taylor Kinney, Gen Soto, Terry Diab, Nadja Mazalica, Lidiji Anonic, Takako Akashi, Yuriri Naka, Yukiyoshi Ozawa, Nemanja Naumoski
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 95 minutes
Production Company: AI-Film, Lava Bear Films, Gramercy Pictures
The trailers didn’t seem too enticing, but the premise behind the film caught my interest. With it being inspired on true events, I was eager to see what first time director Jason Zada was able to do at the helm. The cinematography that he helped put together was possibly the best portion of the film, along with a decent lead by Natalie Dorman who played Sara. Other than those two aspects, there wasn’t much left to grasp my attention. What started out sloppy at first, soon found its footing, but towards the end the film, the plot got lost in the forest just like all the other characters that met their impending doom.
Zada of course is no Quentin Tarantino, who’s able to use nothing but dialogue to carry his films. The first ten minutes were a frustrating drag, with forced exposition that wasn’t necessary from the plot already known from the trailers. With Sara being a twin, she trying to talk to her sister felt flat. There was nothing present to grab you, or to make you care about their relationship. Shortly after Aiden (Taylor Kinney) showed up, his involvement was able to bring life to the story. With his interaction my interest spiked, and it appeared the audience was going to witness a thrilling adventure.
The Forest in question is known for its inhabitants of ghosts and paranormal activities. Being PG-13, I still thought the nature of the forest was watered down, not living up to its true potential. Before reaching the main characters destination, a number of guides and locals stressed the importance of staying on the path of The Forest. If not you would soon get lost, and inevitably commit suicide, or lose your mind in the process. Immediately this advice is forgotten, as well as the threat previously explained. I wanted the forest to be a daunting land of trees and bushes that frightened my soul. Instead it contained nothing but cheap jump scares that did nothing, but make me blink in my chair.
The main plot of the film was to find Sara’s twin sister Jess. It was a well thought out reason to take a trip across the world, but the film made us feel nothing about her character to care if she lived or died. To give credit where it’s due, the film initially provided a reason that both sisters were complete opposites with their personalities. It made sense showing that the smallest moment in someone’s life can determine their possible future. The unfortunate portion is when the entirety of that subject came to fruition, it was broken into one million pieces, giving you no time to put it all together. The story raised questions, but never answered them. It hinted at a possible plot twist, then took a u-turn and never came back.
What started out as a train wreck, soon began to find its pacing. The plot was simple, and the story was well thought out, but the execution had a number of missteps. The look of the forest was splendid, but overall there were too many swings and misses. Characters continue to fall down while running, batteries never died in cell phones, and the inability to follow simple instructions were constantly ignored. Still for a while it was nearly a passable film, but the last twenty minutes were rushed through entirely, leaving you irritated, and still expecting more. The Forest isn’t scary in the slightest. It’s a wasted opportunity that continues to ruin the market of horror films, and if not already will soon turn the genre into a laughable joke.