The month of January always brings in the worst of horror films in Hollywood. However, this January has been a tad bit better. Even though “The Forest” is not one of the better horror films of our times, it still does merit a view. The film relates the story of two identical twin sisters Jess and Sara played by Natalie Dormer. Jess comes to Japan for a job and situations lead her into entering the famous “Suicide Forest” of Japan where (as the name suggest) people go to commit suicide. Her sister Sara follows her to Japan and then with the help of a local aid enters the forest to track down her sister.
The setup is riveting and I would have loved to see this film turn out good and scary. Unfortunately inspite of having a terrifying setup to its credit this film is not at all scary. There isn’t a single genuine scare in the whole film and I watched it alone without any interruption in between and yet somehow I was able to forsee every jump scare that the film was throwing at me. The story is interesting and even without the scare I was interested to see what happens to the two sisters. 20 minutes into the story and the viewer is made aware that Jess might just be alive. The film keeps falling back to the past of the two girls which brings back some interesting angles to the story.
The standard horror portions are all present. A scary Japanese girl, a friend who cannot be trusted, strange sounds and people you see who are not there are all too evident in this film to make an impact. But I still felt interested about what the film was driving for but that was until the climax. When this film was over, I was like …”Yee that’s it? That’s all you got….” It was the same feeling that I got when I finished Regression, another film that had the right ingredients to be great but ended up falling way short of the mark thanks to a terrible ending. But The Forest is much more adversely affected by the lackluster ending of the film. Whatever little interest and intrigue it conjures up is lost in matter of moments.
The narrators who pop up here and there, keep trying to make the forest look menacing through their speeches about it, but when Sara actually makes her way through the forest, you will never for once feel that scare which was all so necessary. That is however not a reflection on Natalie Dormer’s performance who in fact does a great job. She is probably the only saving grace of the film apart from its intriguing plot. She gives this film a performances that it truly didn’t deserve. She is great in the sequences where she has to look scared and does exceedingly well in the dramatic moments. She renders her character completely believable.
The visual effects and editing are used to conjure up some scares which are quickly dilated as we move across the narrative. The film could have done well with a more thought-out ending and some more effective scares. The supporting cast members add nothing to the story. The only positive that can be put forth in the director’s favor is a fluid visual style particularly in the forest sequences wherein the viewer is always in the best possible position to enjoy the story unfold. Though the climax has a tad bit too many cuts and some really overdone shaky cam, the visuals remain effective and for most parts add to the films setting and whatever little charm is there. The rest is boring and evidently falls flat. Another disappointing January horror film.