The Forest: A Promising Premise That Absolutely Fails to Pay Off [Review]

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With the holidays over and everything going back to normal, it’s time to start looking at the the first ______ movie of the new year.  In this case it’s the first Scary movie of the new year, and that is The Forest.  My friend who saw this with me picked this movie because he thought I’d hate it.  I think he was right.

The_Forest_PosterA young woman searches for her twin sister in a Japanese forest only to find herself surrounded by paranormal forces.

maxresdefaultThere’s a good movie in here somewhere, I can feel it.  The premise, a ‘suicide forest’ that actually kills you, seems promising.  It was well cast, well shot and mostly well written.  The scenery was beautiful.   The Forest established the Rules (all horror films have to have Rules, after all) and then proceeded to force the characters to break them one at a time.  Despite all its advantages, The Forest limps along and never seems to get anywhere.  

Actually I have a theory:  a producer hits upon a great idea and hires a talented writer or two to make a script (or however this kind of thing happens, I have no idea).  They also hire an inexperienced writer or two to help out.   The Established Writers mock up an outline, hand it to the inexperienced writers and then go off to drink Mai Tai’s while the inexperienced writers do most of the actual work.  Then the Established Writers come back and attempt to fix everything but they’re massively hungover and also out of time and money.   They hand it over to a good director who makes the best movie he could.  This would explain what I saw.   There were truly excellent bits (and some very obvious course corrections) floating in an  ocean of mediocrity.

zqwvs0gz3hqdwgmoewhcThe Forest was carefully paced but something happened where when they tried to build suspense it actually dragged instead.  So, to prevent the audience from fully going to sleep, they threw in a few well-timed jump scares (but thankfully not many).  There was menace, sure, but I never really felt like the main character was in any real immediate peril for very long.  And the payoff (every Horror movie needs a payoff) wasn’t very satisfactory.  It just wasn’t that scary.  Maybe it was that the premise, while promising, wouldn’t actually lend itself to making a full movie out of it.  Maybe the writers just made it look difficult. I don’t know.

I liked the cast – I completely felt Natalie Dormer’s two characters, she was utterly convincing.     Likewise Taylor Kinney was exactly on the line between trustworthy and slimy, I could never tell what his character was going to turn out to be (which is a very good thing even if he did keep his shirt on the entire movie).  The rest of the supporting cast was also very good.

maxresdefault (1)So is this a movie worth watching.  Nope.  Unless you’re an aspiring film writer and want to apply what you’ve learned diagnosing a movie that doesn’t have any clear point of failure.  The thing I learned from The Forest is this:  you can make no obvious mistakes and still miss the mark.  Never mind Movie Chinese Food – I was forgetting about this movie while I was still watching it.

[Click Below to Enlarge Rating Breakdown]

The Forrest