The very first film screening of any year is always a sad affair. The fact that mine will be a horror film starring Natalie Dormer about a Japanese suicide forest doesn’t bode especially well.
If The Forest had come out in 1983 and I was under the influence of some particularly strong strains of marijuana when I’d watched it, it might’ve just edged it’s way into that “so-bad-its-good” category people are always harping on about. But, it comes out this Friday and I was dead sober when I watched it (hey, I’m pretending to be a professional here) and it is handily, one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. Which is sad, because it starts out with some promise. Sarah (Natalie Dormer) is a twin, and her twin, Jess, has gone missing in Aokigahara Forest – a Japanese forest infamous for its attractive nature to those looking to off themselves. Sarah, strong-willed to begin with, rushes off to find her twin in the supposedly ghost-laden place. Early on in the film you can see that director Jason Zada seems to have had some idea of the film he wanted to make – a slow burning bit of tension, rife with gorgeous cinematography and allusions to the beauty and danger inherent in nature. And then, at about the thirty minute mark, as Sarah and her entourage of cardboard cutouts waltz into the death forest, you can almost feel the finger of the studio slowly crushing any spirit from the film. What could’ve been something at least watchable, slowly devolves into a miasma of shitty character decisions and unexplained story jumps written off as “mysterious.” Dormer’s character (who’s only defining character trait is that she has a twin and a husband) backpedals from possibly intelligent human being to screaming ninny driven only by the film’s need to keep up with its banal plotting. When the whole goddamn avalanche finally whimpers to a stop with one of the very worst endings you’ll see in film this year or any other, all you can do is shake your head and hope this bundle of poo-poo doesn’t bring any tidings for the rest of cinema in 2016.
One Last Thought:
It has to get better from here.