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