This for­est is free of frights

Rutherglen Reformer - - The Ticket -

When au­di­ences head down to the woods to sit through The For­est, they can’t be sure of any big sur­prises.

That’s be­cause this su­per­nat­u­ral chiller ticks so many of the genre’s boxes, a drink­ing game de­signed to spot them would leave com­peti­tors more than a lit­tle worse for wear.

Brit Natalie Dormer, of Game of Thrones fame, pulls dou­ble duty to play twins Sara and Jess Price, the for­mer trav­el­ling to Ja­pan’s Sui­cide For­est to find her miss­ing sis­ter.

Ja­son Zada makes his full-fea­ture bow be­hind the cam­era and it’s fair to say he doesn’t rein­vent the wheel.

The two things his slow-paced hor­ror have go­ing for it are its lead and the stun­ning set­ting. Dormer shines as both sib­lings in her first above-the-ti­tle role and adds wel­come un­cer­tainty and an eerie calm be­fit­ting the genre she finds her­self in.

The tit­u­lar for­est has creepi­ness pour­ing out of ev­ery square inch, even dur­ing day­light hours, and Zada de­serves praise for util­is­ing im­pres­sive fram­ing tech­niques – and an abun­dance of mist – to build ten­sion and an oth­er­worldly at­mos­phere.

Sadly, that’s where the pos­i­tives come to an abrupt end. Whether it’s slow-build nerve-shred­ding, look-away-now gore and mem­o­rable kills or heart-pound­ing jump scares, the hor­ror genre’s best come up trumps on at least one of th­ese sta­ples.

The For­est, though, com­mits the big­gest cin­e­matic crime that can be be­stowed upon the genre – it’s just not scary.

Like Zada, the film’s trio of writ­ers – Nick Antosca, Sarah Corn­well and Ben Ke­tai – de­but their work on the big screen and one of the most fright­en­ing things about The For­est is that it took three peo­ple to pen the script.

Ridicu­lously, the movie has been mar­keted as “based on a true story” but that’s ut­ter non­sense and the use of ex­ist­ing Ja­panese mythol­ogy seems to only ex­ist to al­low the writ­ers to lazily re­hash J-Hor­ror clichés like the creepy school­girl and har­row­ing im­ages shown on mod­ern tech­nol­ogy.

We’re pounded with re­lent­less mon­strous vi­sions in the woods and each ap­pari­tion that pops up to say hello is less un­set­tling than the last.

None of the lit­tle-known sup­port­ing play­ers is given any­thing ap­proach­ing an in­ter­est­ing back story and ex­ist only to help Sara in her search, or to get ter­rorised by the nas­ti­ness of the for­est.

All of this could’ve at least been partly for­given if Zada and his writ­ing team served up a sat­is­fy­ing fi­nale packed with twists, rev­e­la­tions and fun frights.

In­stead, it all ends with a whim­per, fail­ing to re­solve in­trigu­ing ear­lier plot strands in­volv­ing the twins and its mythol­ogy in a re­ward­ing man­ner.

For fans of Dormer and the Sui­cide For­est tourist board, The For­est is worth 95 min­utes of your time.

For any­one else look­ing for some solid scares, you’d be bark­ing up the wrong tree.

Don’t look back Natalie Dormer tack­les The For­est

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