Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney, Yukiyoshi Ozawa, Eoin Macken, Stephanie Vogt, Noriko Sakura, Yuho Yamashita, Rina Takasaki
Written by: Nick Antosca, Sarah Cornwell, Ben Ketai
Directed by: Jason Zada
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for disturbing thematic content and images
Running Time: 95
Date: 01/08/2016
IMDB

The Forest (2016)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Whine and Trees

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This ghost story starts off well, with an interesting setup and interesting characters, but it begins to rely too much on cheap jump-scares, and eventually lets the mystery slip away and fall apart. Bay Area director Jason Zada clearly started with some good ideas, combining images from J-horror and American concepts, as well as a terrifying forest setting, with its hideous mixture of crawling life and creeping death. And Natalie Dormer, whose tough beauty stole scenes in The Hunger Games films and on Game of Thrones, brings unexpected depth; she creates a touching relationship with... herself (playing her own twin).

Sara Price (Natalie Dormer) becomes worried when she doesn't hear from her twin sister Jess (Dormer), who has been teaching in Japan. She learns that Jess went to the Aokigahara forest near Mt. Fuji, a place legendary for its unholy history; they say that people go there to commit suicide, and that dark spirits wander within. Undaunted, and knowing that her sister is still alive, Sara journeys there. She meets travel writer Aiden (Taylor Kinney), who knows a man, Michi (Yukiyoshi Ozawa), who knows the forest. The trio go searching and find Jess's abandoned tent. Sara decides to spend the night there, but soon begins seeing and hearing strange things. Before long, she's no longer sure what, or who, she can trust.

On the downside, The Forest uses the same sudden percussive sounds and visual effects that most other horror movies use, and as the story goes on, things become more muddled. The storytellers clearly want to keep some kind of mystery alive, but their juggling act starts to fall apart, relying on shocks instead of ideas. It's an admirable attempt, but a disappointment.

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