Go­ing bark­ing mad

SFX - - Reviews - Ian Berri­man

re­leased OUT NOW! 2016 | 15 | blu-ray/dvd/down­load Di­rec­tor Jason Zada Cast Natalie dormer, Tay­lor Kin­ney, Yukiyoshi Ozawa, eoin Macken

Once again, the siren call of cheap lo­ca­tions has drawn hor­ror film­mak­ers back into the woods. This unimag­i­na­tively ti­tled ef­fort does at least have an in­ter­est­ing cul­tural phe­nom­e­non to draw upon: the en­dur­ing pop­u­lar­ity of a Ja­panese for­est called Aoki­ga­hara as a sui­cide spot.

Natalie Dormer plays two roles – both Sara, in search of her miss­ing twin, and trou­bled sib­ling Jess – and makes a de­cent fist of dis­tin­guish­ing them. Debu­tant di­rec­tor Jason Zada has an eye for sin­is­ter de­tails: close-ups of fungi, snails and gnarled roots. And for a while the script keeps us guess­ing as to whether Ai­den (Tay­lor Kin­ney), the travel jour­nal­ist she hooks up with en route, is all he claims to be, or whether the yurei (an­gry ghosts) of the for­est are caus­ing para­noid delu­sions. (The film­mak­ers do rather botch this, though – guys, no jour­nal­ist ever records an in­ter­view with a dic­ta­phone while stand­ing 10 feet away from the sub­ject.)

There are four or five de­cent jump scares, and a lovely mo­ment where they man­age to make an old View-Mas­ter toy sin­is­ter. But what with its mys­te­ri­ously snap­ping twigs and Blair Witch-es­que ge­o­graph­i­cal con­fu­sion, there’s just too much that feels fa­mil­iar.

Ex­tras An eight-minute fea­turette; a sto­ry­board se­quence; stills gallery; trailer.

This isn’t the first hor­ror film set in Aoki­ga­hara: see For­est Of The Liv­ing Dead (2010) and Grave Hal­loween (2013).

Beryl’s rain­coat was both too large and too rigid.

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