Friday, January 15, 2016

The Forest [2016]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-III)  ChicagoTribune (2 Stars) (1 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C-)  Fr. Dennis (2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (K. Jensen) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (M. Dujsik) review
AVClub (J. Hassenger) review  

The Forest [2016] (directed by Jason Zada, screenplay by Nick Antosca, Sara Cornwell and Ben Ketai) is rather straight-forward "scary movie" if set largely in a somewhat exotic (for a North American) locale - the Aokigahara Forest at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan. 

The denseness of the often misty Pacific Northwest (think "Twilight")-like rain-forest has made it the locale for "scary story" (tormented / evil spirit ...) type folklore, for ages, in Japan.  More recently, it has gained the reputation in Japan as a common place for suicides.

SOOO ... 20-something, with a fiancé / a good job, super-responsible Sara (played by Natalie Dormer) gets word that her mirror-opposite, far more adventurous / far less responsible twin sister Jess (ALSO played by Natalie Dormer) studying in Japan has become very depressed.  Sensing that "she needs to go ..." ("It's a twins thing ...", she tells her fiancé), Sara drops everything and flies out to Japan to save her sister "before it's too late."

When Sara arrives, she's told that Jess had packed-up her bags in Tokyo a few days earlier and headed over to said Aokigahara Forest which, "could not be good..." So she heads out there as well to "try to find her," again "before it's too ..."

Arriving at the edge of said forest at nightfall, Sara spends the night in a somewhat dour-looking hostel just outside its perimeter (I suppose, the hostel _can't_ look "too cheerful," as most of its clientele would presumably spend the night there before "going out to the forest to ..."  There Sara meets a strapping / smiling 20-something American "adventurous type" named Aiden (played by Taylor Kinney) who tells her he's there "to write a story" about said dour "Forest of Dreadful Things."  He offers to help her find her sister.  He also enlists a local, similarly good looking / smartly dressed, 20-something Japanese guide named Michi (played quite well by Yukuyoshi Ozawa) who IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS _warns them_ "When you go into the forest STAY ON THE PATH or else YOU'LL GET LOST" ...

The three enter the forest.  Sara DOESN'T "stay on the path."  THEY "GET LOST" ... much dour, misty, mystical, and at times "jumpy / scary" ensues ...

ASIDE from the _obvious_ "suicide theme" ... it makes for a "not particularly terrible" teenage angst / "I just want to be there for my friends" jumpy / scary film.  Arguably it's a (small) step up from the typical teenage "troubled mad slasher" fare.

But there is that suicide theme that will trouble quite a few ...

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