11 November 2017



I absolutely loved this horror movie, as I tend to love most horror films set mainly in forested areas. Forests are a source of infinite natural beauty and the eco-systems that exist therein are nothing short of miraculous to study.

As both a horror nut and nature freak, I was probably always going to love a horror flick called THE FOREST, and love it I did, although the idea of a suicide forest, a place where people come literally to top themselves, is hardly a new one. I've noticed this theme in a fair few horror movies by this stage but you can still enjoy another one if it's well-made, and I've no complaints about THE FOREST.

Pretty blonde Sara, played by Natalie Dormer (GAME OF THRONES, THE HUNGER GAMES), flies all the way from America to Japan's legendary real-life Aokigahara Forest because it's the place where her missing twin sister Jess was last spotted. Jess, by the way, has a history of mental instability and of attempting to commit suicide, so that's why this news is kind of like a big deal.

She was seen going into the forest but she wasn't seen coming out, which leads the Japanese police to surmise that she must have offed herself in the woods. It doesn't seem to occur to them to go in and actually look for her, though. Too radical a step, maybe? Never mind, it's much more fun to have the sister dashing off into the woods half-cocked and ill-prepared to look for her lost twinny-twin-twin.

She's not entirely on her own though, the sister. Accompanying Sara is a Japanese guide who routinely scans the woods for corpses so that he can alert the rangers as to their whereabouts. They can then be retrieved and, I suppose, properly disposed of, instead of just lying around the place rotting and looking untidy.

The Japanese guide is one hundred million percent adamant that he won't stay in the forest after dark. Some really bad shit happens to people who do that, he maintains, and when Sara finds her sister's tent and belongings in the forest, he tells Sara that it's best to leave before it gets dark and come back in the morning when it's nice and light. And safe...

Sara's having none of it, however. She's not budging an inch, especially not now that she's found her sister's tent. Bringing a tent into the forest, according to the guide, is a sign that the person isn't sure whether they really want to go through with the suicide or not.

This gives Sara hope and, in any case, Jess is her twin. If Jess was dead, Sarah would know about it. Sara's convinced of this, so she's staying put. Anything bad you see in the forest, her guide advises, it isn't real, it's all in your head. The forest draws out your own fears and feeds on them. Grand, so. We're in for a high old time here anyway, thinks Sara. Not...

Her sole companion in the forest overnight is an attractive, well-built photo-journalist called Aiden, whom she met in a bar on her arrival in Japan and who likes her enough (fancies his chances, more like!) to risk life and limb staying overnight in the suicide forest with her. But when the nightmares start coming and reality starts becoming terribly distorted, is even Aiden what he appears to be...?

The ghosts of the forest, or the yurei, are sparse but all the more chillingly effective for all that. I particularly liked Hoshiko the evil smiling schoolgirl, and I observed from the little making-of featurette that came with the Blu-Ray that the effects are done with really good horror make-up and no CGI at all, as far as I know. Now that's impressive...!

The underground ice caves that criss-cross the forest below ground are terrifyingly claustrophobic. Not even for a free squeeze of Ronaldo's left testicle (please excuse me a thousand times over for objectifying the male body, obviously I know that guys would never do that to chicks...!) would I venture down there, alone or accompanied, but you know how stupid people in horror movies are.

Sara can't bloody well wait to fall down that hole into the murky, ghost-filled depths of the underground cave system. Rather her than me, that's all I can say. That place is f**king haunted...!

There's a nice little twist at the end that wraps everything up tidily and the scenes of the
Aokigahara Forest at the foot of Mount Fuji are just spectacular. This probably won't be the most memorable movie you've ever seen but you'll certainly enjoy a one-time viewing.

A couple of good scares, an interesting concept, ie, the suicide forest, and the beauty of the woods themselves make for ninety minutes of enjoyable watching. Just don't look behind you while you're watching it. That way madness lies...


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


You can contact Sandra at:


No comments:

Post a Comment