Apr 042016

The Forest isn’t a good movie but I suppose as poorly made as it was, there are worse films out there and at only 95-minutes (sans credits), it does make for quick watch not to mention Natalie Dormer isn’t half bad considering what she had to work with.



The Forest


The Movie
| Special Features | Video Quality | Audio Quality | Overall

Genre(s): Horror, Supernatural
Universal Studios | PG13 – 94 min. – $34.98 | April 12, 2016

Date Published: 04/04/2016 | Author: The Movieman

Directed by:
Jason Zada
Writer(s): Ben Ketai and Sarah Cornwell & Nick Antosca (written by)
Cast: Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney, Yukiyoshi Ozawa, Eoin Macken
Commentary, Featurette, Galleries
Digital Copy: Yes
Formats Included: Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.85
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Disc Size: 32.1 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A

THE MOVIE – 1.5/5

Tagline: Everyone comes here looking for a way out.

The same could be said for anyone watching the movie itself.

The Forest is the latest in the short line of movies set in and around Aokigahara a.k.a. Suicide Forest a.k.a. The Sea of Trees, the latter the title of a 2015 drama starring Matthew McConaughey and Naomi Watts. This incarnation takes inspiration from Japanese folklore and applies the J-Horror tropes namely a creepy Japanese schoolgirl looking utterly creepy.

The story centers on Sara Price (NATALIE DORMER) who has set off to Japan upon learning her identical twin sister Jess (DORMER) has set foot into Aokigahara and has not been seen since. The authorities believe she, like numerous others before her, went in to commit suicide but Sara’s twin intuition believes otherwise and is intent on finding her.

After exploring Jess’ workplace, and speaking to her employer, and apartment, Sara makes the train ride to Narusawa. While staying at a Japanese motel, she meets the charming Aiden (TAYLOR KINNEY) and as she relays her story, he offers to take her, with a nature guide, Michi (YUKIYOSHI OZAWA), who knows the forest back to front, to search for Jess. Together, they journey through the restricted section as we get a history on the forest and lost spirits known as yurei who will scream and howl throughout the night.

During their search, after encountering the grisly sight of someone who had hung himself, they come across Jess’ tent which, according to Michi, means she hasn’t fully decided to take her own life. With darkness coming upon them soon, Michi insists they get back to the path but Sara refuses contending she stays at the tent for if/when Jess returns. Reluctantly Aiden stays behind while Michi will return in the morning to lead them back. Of course nothing at all happens during the night… or strange happenings occur from haunting shrills during the night and Sara even encounters a creepy Japanese girl in the middle of the forest. This is her first flight into madness where reality and dark fantasy begin to merge.

The Forest is just the latest in the unfortunately long line of bad Westernized J-horror subgenre, only one of which was any good, that being The Ring, while the rest were disastrously awful. Is this one as bad as, say, Pulse? Not even close as The Forest is at least partially competently made and certainly looks good, though any DP worth their salt should make Tokyo look good, those who don’t should just find a new profession.

The film was directed by Jason Zada who marks his first feature length debut and I suppose he does a fine job with the screenplay – written by the trio Ben Ketai (The Strangers 2) and Sarah Cornwell (debut) & Nick Antosca (upcoming Friday the 13th reboot) – that is filled with J-horror tropes and lame-ass jump scares that were hardly, if ever, actually scary, and that includes the obligatory final scare topped off by laughably bad CGI.

If there was a highlight to The Forest, it resides with Natalie Dormer who displays some decent enough charisma to carry the half-baked script. She could be a star on the rise and displays more talent versus her role on “Game of Thrones” (where she’s overshadowed by Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey) and was a mere background player in The Hunger Games franchise. And for his part, Taylor Kinney does well playing up both charm and suspiciousness especially as Sara’s paranoia grows; it’s not an especially multi-dimensional part but he does well enough for what he’s given.

In the end, The Forest is plain and simply bad. There was some nice atmosphere early on but everything beyond that are jump scares that were hardly effective and culminates with an ending that was predictable as it’s something seen and done in the majority of supernatural horror films.


This release comes with a matted slip cover. Inside is a redemption code for the Digital HD copy.

Audio Commentary – Director Jason Zada gives a standard but at least interesting track talking about some behind-the-scenes anecdotes on making the movie, casting and working with Natalie Dormer, shooting in Tokyo, Serbia and London. It would’ve probably been beneficial if Zada was joined by someone else.

Exploring The Forest (8:05; HD) is your basic EPK behind-the-scenes featurette including interviews with Zada, Natalie Dormer, Producer David S. Goyer and others.

Galleries: Behind-the-Scenes Photos, Set Illustrations, Visual Effects/Make-Up Concept Art, Model Cave Photos and Storyboards (Visitors Center, 80s Flashback, Cabin Sequence, Revised Ending)


VIDEO – 4.5/5

The Forest arrives on Blu-ray presented in its original theatrical 1.85 widescreen aspect ratio and a 1080p high-definition transfer (MPEG-4 AVC codec). The highlight of the video is with sharp detail levels throughout while colors are generally bright though when Sara enters the forest, it tends to be, obviously, more natural tones. All in all, it’s a nice looking and satisfying, transfer.


AUDIO – 4.25/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is impressive with clear dialogue levels throughout but also offers nice depth. Early on, as Sara is exploring the Tokyo nightlife, the rear channels provide the ambient noises and even the LFE channel kicks on giving that extra boost. Things mellow out somewhat once inside the forest though the blood-curdling screams resonate quite nicely with Bear McCreary’s score, though hardly his best, rounds things out fairly well.


OVERALL – 2.5/5

Overall, The Forest isn’t a good movie but I suppose as poorly made as it was, there are worse films out there and at only 95-minutes (sans credits), it does make for quick watch not to mention Natalie Dormer isn’t half bad considering what she had to work with. The Blu-ray released through Universal has great video and audio transfers though the bonus features have much to be desired.





Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.

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