The Forest: Don’t Step Off The Path
‘Don’t step off the path’ says a mysterious Japanese lady to Sara Price (Natalie Dormer).
Damn I wish we’d listened. We (myself and the wife) were having a lovely night out – dinner and a plan to go see Triple 9. Somewhere between cocktails and a tostada stack at TGI Fridays we decided instead to check out The Forest. It was a later showing. Less time pressure. We ‘stepped off’ our pre-determined path. And the terrible price to be paid – I had to spend the rest of the night listening to why we should know better than to go see stupid horror films (which sucks, because I really do like horror films).
So how was it? You know those ‘horror’ movies where nothing happens but the director still thinks he/she can come up with some cheap jump scares just to keep the audience engaged. Yeah, it was a bit like that, except it fell down so many times that by the time something scary might have happened (ie by the time they enter ‘the forest’) we’d kind of lost faith in the whole movie. There was the weird guy who jumps up to a window and says boo! A couple of dream sequences that were very workable for the trailer, and of course a dark corridor with a flickering light, at the end of which an eerie shape / figure that we can’t quite make out. Not to spoil it for you, but it was nothing – actually it’s a great opportunity for a bathroom break if you’re looking for one.
I wrote in another recent blog ‘Rings v The Conjuring 2’ that horror fans had been pretty well starved of quality outings lately, and that there was little to look forward to moving forward. If this is the standard that future horror film-makers are aiming for then the genre is pretty well dead, at least for a time.
The maddening thing is that this had potential. It’s a good story – the story of a woman searching for her twin sister in Japan’s Aokigahara Forest (the suicide forest) and dealing with the restless spirits that reside within. It’s not got the worst cast either. Natalie Dormer has done some stuff for Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games and was also Irene Adler in Elementary. Here she plays both Sara and Jess Price (the twin sisters). Taylor Kinney (playing Sara’s saviour / nemesis Aiden) has been busy on Chicago Fire and manages to straddle the ‘is he good or is he evil’ line pretty well.
I guess the problem here is that it’s just so lazily, and predictably, done. It tries to be a psychological kind of horror, but fails. It tries for some jump scares (let’s having rotting corpses following her around – please, we watch The Walking Dead every week), it attempts some eeriness (oh no! A Japanese schoolgirl with a cryptic message is wandering around the forest alone at night. Whatever shall we do?). Oh yeah, that reminds me. There’s also an abandoned cabin (my mind briefly wandered to the Japanese schoolgirls in Cabin In The Woods). There is nothing new here, and the characters and settings are just so clichéd that you could be watching any one of a number of other movies. It’s slick, glossy, with a cool poster and a neat trailer. It’s a con job.
This is a film made by someone that thinks horror is easy. That scaring an audience is the same as engaging with an audience. That having some ‘cool’ effects will help cover over the absence of any common sense or meaningful character development.
This film was a major disappointment.
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