Jason Zada's The Forest ruins a cool concept on yet another scare-less horror flick that holds back when it should be moving forward. Natalie Dormer and Taylor Kinney don't do the film any favors either.
Jason Zada‘s The Forest is one of those cool concept, but horribly delivered horror films that generally flood the cinemas during the January timeframe. The trailer sold the film’s jump-scares and creepy atmosphere almost perfectly, but the end result is just another wasted horror film that could’ve been so much more.
Sara’s (Natalie Dormer) twin sister Jess (also Natalie Dormer) has gone missing. She was last seen entering a Japanese forest that has been nick-named The Suicide Forest. But Sara doesn’t believe that Jess is dead or that she has gone to kill herself, which leads her to Japan in search for his sister or for clues as to where she’s gone.
Jason Zada‘s The Forest presents a simple concept for the perfect horror film. The infamous Aokigahara Forest in Japan really is known as The Suicide Forest and many believe that there’s a supernatural presence within the thick trees that house angry souls that haven’t passed from this world to the next.
And yet Zada and his batch of writers fail at every attempt to create a horror film that’s generally scary and unique in any way.
The Forest plays almost everything by the books, throwing away its already-creepy atmosphere for simple jump-scares, while skipping out on what makes true horror actually click.
There’s no build up, no tension and no frightening images, unless you think constant camera pans to old Japanese ladies is scary.
What’s scary is Natalie Dormer‘s dull and lifeless performance, which comes across as a wasted chance for her to step into the cinema spotlight. Apparently she’s a big deal on Game of Thrones, which I haven’t watched and am now even less convinced to do so, at least for her performance.
Dormer gives the Sara/Jess combo a confusing lack of emotion, making the struggling search for Jess all the more boring.
At no point does the audience feel a connection between Sara and Jess, because Zada floods the film with un-needed edits and cuts that skip some of the film’s most important establishing character beats.
Dormer’s performance is crippled from the gate, which she then continues to fumble as she makes bad after even worse decisions while attempting to rescue her sister. Eventually we realize that she’s the one in need of rescuing somewhere between her taking up a random stranger on an offer to go searching for her sister (played by Taylor Kinney) and her eventual lack of common sense when literally everyone around her warns her of the dangers inside the forest.
She refuses to listen and continues to venture deeper and deeper. The film doesn’t benefit from her curiosity and instead drags on like a dead corpse as she starts seeing visions of her past, blended with some crazy Japanese school girls that just love day hikes in one of the most depressing forests on planet Earth.
Not once does newcomer Jason Zada manage to capture the terror or suspense. The Forest is his first full-length film and it shows. His obsession with quick and effortless jump-scares focused around elderly people are uncomfortable and confusing, while he also manages to squander every single piece of perfect horror that he’s basically handed given the film’s location and easy-going plot structure.
He does nothing with the imagery or the story behind the forest and instead creates the most uninspiring piece of PG-13 horror garbage to grace the screens in some time. At least others boldly try to make something their own, messy and all.
Zada simply goes for the easy way out, which will surely guarantee him another low-budget studio horror film down the road and The Forest‘s own box office success. It’s not hard selling a film with such an awesome concept, but apparently it’s extremely easy to ruin its chances at becoming a quality film.
I wanted to like The Forest — I really did. The trailers had me sold and I walked in with the lowest of expectations, yet I still managed to walk away disappointed with the lack of creativity on all accounts.
The curse of January filler horror movies continues with The Forest. Keep out and far away from this lifeless pile of cinematic waste, unless you truly want something to get depressed over.