Reviewed by: Joshua Halstead—first time reviewer
ghosts in the Bible
the film’s unbiblical idea of evil spirits—“angry and tormented souls of the dead who now prey on anyone who crosses their paths”
If a Christian commits suicide, will they go to Heaven? Answer
twins in the Bible
|Featuring:|| Natalie Dormer … Sara
Taylor Kinney … Aiden
Yukiyoshi Ozawa … Michi
Eoin Macken … Rob
Rina Takasaki … Hoshiko
Kikuo Ichikawa … Businessman
Noriko Sakura … Mayumi
Yûho Yamashita … Sakura
Stephanie Vogt … Valerie
James Owen … Peter
Lava Bear Films
|Distributor:||Gramercy Pictures, subsidiary of NBC Universal and Comcast|
“The Forest” is the latest in the trend of poorly made, PG-13 horror movies. This one stars Natalie Dormer from “Game of Thrones” as Sara, a woman whose twin went missing in the Japan’s suicide forest. After the police refuse to search for her, Sara goes to Japan herself and into the forest to track her down. While there, she meets Aiden, who offers to guide her through the forest. Once in the forest their minds begin to play games with them. For sake of not revealing spoilers, I won’t go into any more plot details.
Suicide is part of the plot, though not a prominent piece. More offensive is the film turning an actual location, where many troubled people have committed suicide, into a gimmick. To its credit, it does take suicide seriously within the context of the film, but it is still somewhat offensive in its portrayal of the suicide forest.
Spiritually, there is nothing Scripturally accurate. It deals with souls left on Earth, and never goes into much detail on why they are “left there,” or the existence of God, heaven or hell. The film essentially avoids dealing with how this story takes place in regards to any religious belief.
Content-wise, this is relatively clean for a PG-13 film. There is no sex or nudity (just some cleavage). It does have some violence and definitely some scares for younger viewers. Many would likely find the horror more lame than scary, bordering on humorous. There is basically no blood (other than rotting corpses), and some fairly tame violence. In regards to foul language, there are about three uses of the s-Word, a few utterances of the d- and a-words, and several profanities.
The main issue in this film is the concept of spirits being left on Earth, though it is not done in a demonic manner, nor is it particularly scary.
Due to the subject matter, dead bodies and scary content, this is not a film for kids. Ultimately, for me, it’s a cheesy, fairly clean, and only moderately enjoyable horror film.
Violence: Moderate to heavy / Profanity: Moderate—“G*d d*mn” (1), “Jesus” (3), “Oh G*d” (6), OMG (4), “damn” (2), s-words (3) / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
…A compelling, haunted trek through Japan’s ‘suicide forest’… [2½/4]
—Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail
…corpse chiller set in Japan loses its path… trashy… incoherent and meretricious horror movie… Dormer has great difficulty with the role… [2/5]
—Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian (UK)
…Zada gets credible performances from Dormer and Kinney, but their characters undergo such unlikely psychological contortions that these efforts are to no avail. …
—Peter Keough, The Boston Phoenix
…Atmosphere isn’t enough to save horror flick ‘The Forest’… director Jason Zada makes every hackneyed move in the horror playbook… [2/4]
—Kyle Smith, New York Post
Te supernatural thriller “The Forest” begins with an intriguing premise and fun, ghost story-type potential but quickly devolves into convoluted hokum that produces more laughs than scares. …doesn’t live up to its ghost-story potential…
—Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times
…Horror films, like many a world leader, drunken sports fan, and that guy who made Grade 6 a living hell for you, are often loud and stupid. There are exceptions, but “The Forest” is not one of them. …[1½/4]
—Chris Knight, National Post
…Jason Zada does generate an intermittently spooky sense of mystery that not even the muddled scripting can fully demolish. …“The Forest” has already come under fire for allegedly exploiting, and exoticizing, a place whose legacy of shame and death calls for the utmost sensitivity. …
—Justin Chang, Variety
…Anyone who has experienced the suicide of a loved one should stay away from “The Forest”… a decently executed creeper built around a convincing performance by Natalie Dormer…
—Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times
…Stay away. …the final scenes entirely lack credibility. …
—Justin Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter