THE FOREST (2015) Reviews and overview

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‘Where fear grows’

The Forest is a 2015 American horror thriller film directed by Jason Zada from a screenplay by David S. Goyer (Blade II; The UnbornGhost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance), Nick Antosca (TV series’ Teen WolfHannibal; Friday the 13th), Sarah Cornwell and Ben Ketai (Hush; The Strangers 230 Days of Night: Dark Days). Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney and Eoin Macken star.

The Forest-Natalie -Dormer-

Set in the Aokigahara Forest, a real-life place in Japan where people go to end their lives. Against this backdrop, a young American woman comes in search of her twin sister, who has mysteriously disappeared.


Despite everyone’s warnings not to “stray from the path,” Sara (Natalie Dormer) dares to enter the forest to discover the truth about her sister’s fate, only to be confronted by the angry and tormented souls of the dead who now prey on anyone who crosses their paths…



“Dormer is sympathetic enough in her double scream-queen roles, and Zada shows an occasional aptitude for generating suspense through framing, music and sound design, even if the beats he hits are often tediously familiar.” Justin Chang, Variety

The Forest could have been great, given the location that it is inspired by. However we’re given a film about a suicide forest and not THE suicide forest, with so little integration into Japanese culture that this film could be set in any kind of haunted forest. Personally I wanted something special from this film and it just didn’t deliver.” Christopher Stewart, UK Horror Scene

“… Zada and his creative team have already settled on jump scares as a means of maintaining interest, to the point that their effectiveness steadily diminishes as one loudly-orchestrated BOO! moment after the other follows. This is a case where a little more character development might have helped…” Peter Martin, Twitch


“The “rules” of The Forest are never explained, which means Zada can go nuts throwing creepy images of skeletons or maggots or demonic-looking Japanese schoolgirls all over the frame. It quickly becomes very tiresome, which is a shame because for every three scenes of rote tedium, there’s one where a kernel of an idea clearly exists, yearning to sprout in a more professional picture.” Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian

“The admiration for the little that Zada does differently in the early sections of The Forest does not last for long, as the movie repeatedly hits the same beats over and over again. Zada’s film ends up feeling like an extended journey to a predestined shrug of a conclusion.” Mark Dujsik,


“Although he can’t quite get a grip on guiding the lightweight narrative, Zada demonstrates a fluid visual style, particularly in the complex sequences filmed in the forest settings. The horror flourishes are largely by the book, however, drawing little inspiration from Japanese sources or demonstrating much inventiveness.” Justin Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter

“Thanks to Aokigahara mythology, and observant world-building, The Forest is a creepy movie – but unfocused and uninventive horror setups ultimately undermine any well-intentioned effort that Zada and his team put forth. For curious film (and Natalie Dormer) fans, The Forest may pass as an interesting misfire…” Ben Kendrick, Screen Rant

“The apparitions are from the stock of J-horror cliches – including mad old blind women, creepy schoolgirls, bag-headed hanging victims, rubber-faced bad Dad and CGI-tarted-up stumbling spectres. Dormer, impressive in a wide range of roles (including Moriarty on Elementary), gets a rare lead but is stuck with a vaguely-written descent into screaming terror and wrist-sawing lunacy.” Kim Newman, The Kim Newman Web Site


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Cast and characters:

  • Natalie Dormer … Sara and Jess Price
  • Taylor Kinney … Aiden
  • Eoin Macken … Rob
  • Stephanie Vogt … Valerie
  • Yukiyoshi Ozawa … Michi
  • Rina Takasaki … Hoshiko
  • Noriko Sakura … Mayumi
  • Yûho Yamashita … Sakura

Filming locations:

Aokigahara Forest, Japan
Tokyo, Japan

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