Cert: 15 / 93 mins / Dir. Jason Zada / Trailer
Despite everything that I'm about to throw at the bargain-shelf-warmer that is The Forest, I should add that it still towers above the trailers I saw beforehand for The Other Side Of The Door, The Boy and Friend Request. It appears that casting agents for crap horror movies these days just sit around watching The Walking Dead before picking up the phone and yelling "that one!". Still, we get the films we deserve.
Following the BBFC card, the deafening volume of the Icon films ident tells you exactly what to expect for the next hour and a half, and the quiet-quiet-LOUD mantra is rigorously enforced throughout. Despite the first fifteen minutes of The Forest securing the 2016 Guinness World Record for the most expository points crammed into an opening act, the rest of the film is so lethargic and self-indulgently paced than you'd swear the final draft of the screenplay only clocked in at 55 minutes, requiring some heavy-duty padding to make it cinema-shaped.
Not withstanding the boneheaded premise of a fragile, doe-eyed sister following her troubled twin into a haunted suicide-forest (accompanied by a character who was clearly played by Mark Ruffalo in the screenwriters' minds), the film also has the story taking place in Japan (where the forest is an actual thing) allowing the superstition to be ramped unfeasibly up to eleven along with the jump-volume, and with a liberal dosing of pidgin-English that rides a line somewhere between exploitative and outright xenophobic. After a series of quasi-hallucinogenic episodes, the pair eventually find an abandoned log-cabin in the haunted wood, which conveniently contains all the horror tropes hitherto undiscovered.
I can't work out if The Forest is openly referencing just about every key horror movie of the last fifty years, or if the writers*1 genuinely haven't seen them (but have spoken to lots of people who have). It's not even so much that the screenplay is clichéd, but it's also unremittingly stupid. Sitting in a bar just outside of Tokyo, Natalie Dormer's Sara asks "Are you fluent?", to a man (the false Mark Ruffalo) who's literally just finished speaking fluent Japanese to the bartender. Mind you, she just had to explain to this chap that she looked the same as her twin sister, and he still seemed surprised when he saw a photo of her. Later on, Sara says the words "Grandma rushed outside…", narrating a visual flashback in which Grandma demonstrably rushes nowhere, even accounting for the slow-motion. Many of the film's more outré setpieces may actually have been the result of me repeatedly crashing my head into the seat in front of me…
To go further down my list of gripes would be shooting fish in a barrel, actually no, in a washing-up bowl. With a shotgun. Suffice to say that The Forest could well be the most sloppily assembled horror flick I've watched since Annabelle. Yeah.
Still, a bonus point is awarded for the use of a haunted View-Master.
Hitting yourself over the head with a tin tray for an hour and a half.
The only reason this is even allowed within 500 yards of a cinema is because it stars Natalie Dormer. And the fact that it is and it does is of benefit to no-one, not least to Natalie Dormer.
Unless "annoy that Blackout" was at the top of the film-makers' list, no.
Oh, let's ask Natalie that…
Thankfully, there isn't.
Level 2: Natalie Dormer is out of Game Of Thrones and the last Hunger Games movie, both of which also star Gwendoline 'Phasma' Christie.
*1 The term "writers" used here in its loosest and most non-legally-binding sense. As is the word "screenplay". And "film".
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
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