• The Forest (2016) - This should have been a Japanese movie - 6/10 (21/01/16)

    The Forest (2016)

    ''The Forest'' is a British-American supernatural horror movie which takes place in the infamous Aokigahara, a vast forest below Mount Fuji that has a historic association with demons in Japanese mythology and which is a notoriously common suicide site. The film tells the story of a young American woman who tries to rescue her twin sister who was working as an English teacher in Tokyo and who disappeared during a weekend trip to said forest. While local authorities believe that the troubled young woman committed suicide, her sister believes she is still alive since she has a special supernatural connection to her. She travels to Japan on her own and decides to look for her sister despite several warnings from local guides. She gets help from an Australian journalist and a Japanese park guide when she starts looking for her sister. She soon starts to have strange visions, has numerous arguments with the two men, gets mentally unstable and ultimately lost in the woods. The young has to fight her own demons of the past first in order to uncover the mysterious fate of her twin sister and survive after nightfall.

    What I liked about the movie is the inspiring and original settings in Japan. The movie includes a few interesting cultural elements which build up a chilling atmosphere. The introduction of the movie is short and to the point. The background story of the two sisters is a quite good idea but could have been a little bit more detailed and profound. The camera, light and sound techniques are solid and overall there aren't too many low-budget shaky camera sections in this film which is positively exceptional nowadays.

    On the other side, this movie would have been much more authentic if it had been made by an entire Japanese film crew even though most Western cinemas might have ignored such a film due to Hollywood's monopoly. I have seen several Japanese horror movies and they usually offer an intense mixture of supernatural horror elements and perfectly inserted bits and pieces of their own rich culture. ''The Forest'' doesn't have the same kind of depth and remains an entertaining yet exchangeable horror movie that could almost take place anywhere around the world. From an atmospheric point of view, there are two or three mysterious scenes and two or three good jump scares but other parts of the movie are rather dull and sometimes we get fifteen to twenty minutes where nothing important happens at all and where the movie loses a lot of momentum. The acting is of an average quality and none of the actors or actresses leaves a positive impression. This is mostly due to a poor script. It might introduce a few promising ideas like the mysterious death of the twins' parents but they aren't much developed and remain mostly superficial. 

    The conclusion to the film is controversial and in my opinion rather confusing, hectic and absolutely implausible. I'm aware of the fact that a supernatural horror movie isn't supposed to be realistic but this ending is so absurd that it's almost laughable. It's a typical ''deus ex machina'' ending which sadly fits to an overall vapid plot.

    In the end, faithful horror movie fans and those who like to get exposed to Japanese culture by any means can give this film a try. For anyone else, this movie is nothing more or less than an average supernatural horror flick which isn't really scary after all. If you want to go to the cinema with a couple of friends and get exposed to a handful of jump scares, this movie might be entertaining at some points. If you watch it on your own or are expecting something clever, this film is a letdown. If you are truly interested in profound supernatural horror movies connected to Asian culture, you can find much better films from Asia which are ignored by Western cinemas.

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