“The Forest” falls short of expectations


“The Forest,” directed by Jason Zada, is a cold, cryptic thriller based off of the legend of the Aokigahara Forest. The Aokigahara Forest, situated at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan, has a shadowed reputation for being haunted by yurei, the eastern counterpart of ghosts and spirits. The forest is notorious for being the site of many suicide attempts and has become an increasingly popular discussion topic among Internet dwellers.

The movie’s plot revolves around Sara Price (Natalie Dormer), a young American woman searching for her twin sister Jess Price, who was last seen wandering into the Aokigahara Forest. The storyline unfolds in a typical, mystery brand fashion, revealing a flashback detailing the storyline about Sara’s past traumas.

The visual graphics used to depict the spirits are not impressively executed; it is surprising to see costumes furnished in such a tacky fashion, especially since the movie was conceived on a fairly large budget. Nevertheless, director Zada implements enough jump-scares to maintain excitement throughout the duration of the movie.

“The Forest” does not deviate from the style of the typical horror film and is laden with cliché dramatic irony. Throughout the film, Sara persistently tries to find her missing twin sister, even if it means ignoring obvious signs of danger. The characters often make questionable decisions regarding their own safety, and the lack of creativity in the plotline is frustrating at times.

Dormer’s acting adequately captures Sara’s hallucinogenic experience in the forest, easily immersing the audience in the real terror she feels in every confusing and suspenseful scene. However, since there is little to no character development in the movie’s characters, the acting role is much easier to pull off than more complicated roles.

The plot, albeit predictable and linear, incorporates deep symbolism into its simple execution. During the search for Jess, the development of the sisters’ relationship progresses as Sara experiences recurrent flashbacks of her family’s horrific past that parallel the chaotic and uncontrolled situations happening in the forest. The impactful bond between the sisters serves as a metaphor for the connection between the living and the dead, a chilling concept that will deeply haunt the viewer for days after watching the film. While lacking in some areas, the movie is definitely worth a try for horror genre enthusiasts.

By Brian Chen, Staff writer
Photo courtesy of IMDb

The Breakdown

Plot Development
Character Development