‘The Forest’ (2016) | Movie Review

It’s the most horrible time of the year.
I have only bad feelings
At all of these screenings.
I’m screaming with fear!
It’s the most horrible time of the year!

Well, folks, it’s January, the month where the studios finally empty their bedpans that have been accumulating over the past year. Unfortunately for us, they empty them out of a window so we get covered in it, and as always, a surprising amount of people are willing to pay for that. Our first Friday of the new year brings us the first of several requisite horror films for the month. Now, The Forest is nowhere near the worst January horror release of late, but that gives it far too much credit. It’s still not good.

The notion of a special, psychic connection between identical twins is an old one, and one I’ve always found to be stupid, like the myth of only using ten percent of your brain. My mom is a twin, and her and her sister are similar people. However, that comes from shared experience in a particular environment. This is why people from similar backgrounds tend to be friends with each other. So, when this kind of dumb idea is the entire driving force behind your movie, it’s not all going to come together.

The Forest

Margaery Tyrell herself, Natalie Dormer, plays twins Sarah and Jess Price (though mostly Sarah). Sarah is the one who has her life in order, whereas Jess is the rebel. We know this because Sarah is blonde and Jess is a brunette with dark eye makeup. Jess is off in Japan teaching English when she up and disappears, last being seen going into the Aokigahara forest (a popular place for people to go take their own lives). Her body has not been found dead or alive, so Sarah travels to Japan to search for her. She believes Jess is still alive, thanks to her psychic twin connection (a.k.a. a hunch).

If you did not think this forest has some mystical, ghost stuff going on, you would be oh so wrong and, quite frankly, dumb. Immediately stepping into the forest, she starts hearing and seeing things. And it’s all the stuff you expect, like people whispering her name or people with pale faces looking peaceful and the screaming. It’s jump scare reliant, but it doesn’t overdue it like the other ninety-nine percent of modern horror movies, which I will say was refreshing. The problem is it doesn’t do anything else either. The Forest is just boring.

We learn next to nothing about Sarah. We know she has a husband or fiancée (not sure which) and her parents died when she was six, because of course they did. That’s it. No idea of her job, her personality, her life at all. They give us the outlet to learn about her, as she partners up with a journalist (Taylor Kinney) interested in doing a story on her situation. Since they were only doing jump scares every ten minutes instead of every two, there was time to develop these people, but nope. Instead we get walking! Who doesn’t love walking?!

The Forest

Dormer looks just as bored as we are through most of the movie. It barely registers on her face the sadness she feels about her sister being missing, which is a problem when people tell her she looks sad. When things ramp up towards the end, she is a good screamer, but that may just be a case of her doing something rather than nothing. Honestly, The Forest feels like just a gig to bide time between shooting Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games.

January movies have the ability to ruin your day. This wasn’t that bad. I was never angry or upset during The Forest. My main thought was, “Stay awake.” The film has no pace, no character development, no memorable visuals, and is not scary in the slightest. All of it is routine modern horror tropes packaged in dumb twin mysticism. The Forest won’t be the worst film I see this January, but if that isn’t damning with faint praise, I don’t know what is.


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