The Forest, directed by Jason Zada and written by Nick Antosca, and Sara Cornwell is the story about a woman’s journey into a mysterious forest in Japan in search of her missing twin sister.
Sara (played by Natalie Dormer, The Tudors and Game of Thrones) gets a phone call from the Japan police telling her that her twin sister Jess (also played by Dormer) is missing and was last seen going into Aokigahara forest. This forest is found at northwest base of Mount Fuji in Japan known, known as the suicide forest.
The movie plays on the legend that in ancient times families would abandon people in the forest during periods of famine. This would lead to less mouths to feed and more food for the rest of the family. Those lost in the forest would eventually die due to starvation. Legend has it that because of this, Aokigahara is haunted by the souls of those forced to die in the forest.
“My sister Jess and I, we are identical twins. Once something happens to the one of us, the other one could tell. It’s hard to explain, but I can just feel it. She’s in trouble, and she needs me.” – Sara
As you move through the movie, Sara meets Aiden (played by Taylor Kinney, Chicago Fire and Shameless) at a hotel in the forest just off the main road. Aiden is a journalist from Australia and wants to do a story on Sara’s search for Jess. Kind of weird at first but we’ll go with it, especially since he’s the key to getting someone to guide Sara through the forest. The guide is Michi (played by Yukiyoshi Ozawa, Joker Game and April Fools), he is a suicide walker, he walks through the forest, only in the day to locate the bodies of those who have killed themselves.
They find Jess’ tent and Sara and Aiden stay. Sara starts to see the spirits in the forest and realizes that Aiden is not the persons he thought he is. A stranger in a bar, really? She runs from him and falls into one of the many ice caves located under the forest and is saved by none other than Aiden. They arrive at an old Ranger’s station and Sara thinks that Jess is trapped in the basement, killing Aiden believing he had Jess the whole time. Sara has flash backs to when her parents died, an apparent murder/suicide and her Dad attacks her. Using a knife, she cuts herself free and flees, running the spirits. Just then Jess appears, and finds the search party, led by Michi and Sara’s husband Rob (played by Eoin Macken, The Tudors and Merlin). Jess finds her safety but Sara realizes she can’t leave the forest, for when she cut herself free she cut herself and bled out into of that old Ranger’s station.
Overall, the movie doesn’t really develop much of a story. I expect more when it comes to ghosts and legends. The story sticks right to simple, enter the forest, you don’t come out. There are very few spots where you would actually jump, not playing up on the creepy and pop out factors. The twins only know the other is alive because of the “invisible” force that binds them, whether you believe in that or not. Also, the cuts that Sara has or gives to herself are not deep enough for her to bleed out in a short amount of time, let alone from one wrist. I was a bit disappointed to be honest. I give the movie 6 out of 10 stars.
“The Forest has a way of getting inside of people. See things they wouldn’t normally see. Just remember, it’s all in your head.” – Michi
Now let me just say that by seeing this movie I do not think it glamourizes the forest in anyway. Those who go to Aokigahara to commit suicide do it by choice. Suicide is a selfish act. Please remember this. I’ve seen the posts regarding boycotting this movie for it “glamourizing” the real story amount of people who come to commit suicide there. The movie talks about that, shows you how the people near there deal with it and how people are “collected” after they are found. Yes, the movie has its own story twist but that’s Hollywood for you.
If you want to learn more about the Aokigahara Forest, here is a video (runtime 20):