From The Blair Witch Project to The Cabin in the Woods, creepy shit has always gone down in cinematic woodland, and first time director Jason Zada’s psychological horror, The Forest, continues on well-trodden ground.
Starring Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer as identical twins Sara and Jess Price, the former goes in search of the latter in Japan’s notorious ‘suicide forest’, Aokigahara. With a stubborn determination and going against all reasonable sounding advice – including that of suspicious writer Aiden (Taylor Kinney) and park ranger Michi (Yukiyoshi Ozawa) – Sara’s mind begins to unravel every inch as she ventures further into the insanely spooky looking forest.
With a longing desire to be both scary and psychological, The Forest fails to deliver on either front. It’s a real shame given its premise – one of Japan’s spookiest regions – which does make it feel very much like a twin-sized opportunity flushed down the proverbial toilet. Aiming to be a mind-fuck, whilst simultaneously digging into the whole twin telepathy spiel, despite an intriguing opening the newbie helmer’s efforts just feel flimsy and undercooked.
Dormer’s performance is admirable, despite the clumsiness of everything around her. If Zada hadn’t fallen into the trap of snooze-worthy horror antics – rising winds, scary noises and creepy beings – so easily, and put a razor blade through all that clunky, repetitive dialogue, there’s a half-decent movie hidden in that vast woody plain.