Bark­ing Mad

The Ja­pan-set chiller where an in­fa­mous for­est be­comes a fi­nal des­ti­na­tion

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Red alert -

Natalie Dormer gets lost in some spooky woods in The For­est.

THE FOR­EST EX­ISTS

1 When the makers of The For­est heard about Ja­pan’s Aoki­ga­hara For­est, aka the Sui­cide For­est, they felt it was an ideal set­ting for a hor­ror film. “It was the lo­ca­tion that at­tracted me,” di­rec­tor Ja­son Zada tells Red Alert. “It’s a mag­net for sad peo­ple, and seems to act as a call­ing for the de­pressed and the sui­ci­dal. Peo­ple walk 200 yards into the for­est, and they get lost and can’t find their way out.”

THE HOR­ROR IS IN THE MAD­NESS

2 The con­cept for the film was de­vel­oped by David S Goyer, who then turned his idea over to writer Nick An­tosca. “The sug­ges­tion is that this for­est can tease out the dark­est parts of you,” says An­tosca. “Ob­vi­ously there’s de­spair and fear in­side all of us, and the idea of that be­ing ex­ploited is ter­ri­fy­ing – the idea that, un­der the right cir­cum­stances, your psy­cho­log­i­cal vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties could over­whelm you and make you do some­thing you oth­er­wise wouldn’t. A very close friend of mine, my for­mer writ­ing part­ner, was bipo­lar, and he com­mit­ted sui­cide in 2013, so it was im­por­tant to me that the hor­ror of the movie was rooted in real psy­cho­log­i­cal strug­gle.”

THERE’S A MISS­ING PER­SON

3 Natalie Dormer plays Sara, an Amer­i­can woman who trav­els to Ja­pan to find her twin sis­ter, who has dis­ap­peared af­ter en­ter­ing the for­est. Sara’s quest re­veals the ex­is­tence of the tor­tured souls who in­habit the for­est and at­tack any­one who en­ters their do­main. “There’s some­thing so ter­ri­fy­ing about a for­est that doesn’t let you out,” says Zada. “Sara has to find a way out in the story, and the film is about her jour­ney to the for­est, be­cause the for­est be­comes a char­ac­ter in the film, our bad guy.”

SI­LENCE SPEAKS VOL­UMES

4 In terms of gen­er­at­ing scares, the makers of The For­est took a sub­tle ap­proach, em­pha­sis­ing iso­la­tion over gory shocks. “I wanted the for­est to look beau­ti­ful but also feel haunt­ing and scary,” says Zada. “My vis­ual ap­proach was to tell the story al­most en­tirely from Sara’s point-of-view, and so most of the ef­fects in the film come from her – her si­lences, walk­ing through the for­est, the au­di­ence see­ing what she sees.”

IT GETS UN­DER THE SKIN

5 While film­ing in Ja­pan, the cast and crew ex­pe­ri­enced the for­est’s eerily un­ex­plain­able power first­hand. “Peo­ple get scared when you tell them this story – when they don’t know the for­est is a real place,” says Zada. “When they find out it’s a real place, they find that very dis­turb­ing. I want this film to feel like a bru­tal de­scent into mad­ness for the au­di­ence. As Jaws made peo­ple want to avoid the wa­ter, I want peo­ple to think twice be­fore en­ter­ing a for­est af­ter they see this film.”

The For­est opens on 26 Fe­bru­ary.

I want peo­ple to think twice be­fore en­ter­ing a for­est af­ter see­ing this

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