Going barking mad
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.