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Forest, The


Stars: Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney, Yukiyoshi Ozawa, Eoin Macken

Director: Jason Zada

On the evidence of Natalie Dormer and Taylor Kinney’s colourless performances in this feeble and flatulent aspirant shocker, I have been really lucky to have missed their appearances in, respectively, Game Of Thrones, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2, Zero Dark Thirty and The Vampire Diaries.

Dormer begins with a loud scream when, after being subjected to something horrible, she wakes up – having, along with the audience, faced the now more than somewhat tired genre cliché, the opening nightmare…

After this, Dormer heads for Tokyo after learning her twin sister (Dormer again) who was working in Japan as an English teacher has mysteriously vanished in the legendary infamous (real-life) Aokigahara Forest where people go to commit suicide…

Advertising films director Jason Zada makes an inauspicious feature film directorial debut with a turgid shocker (screenplay by Ben Ketai, Sarah Cornwell and Nick Antosca who deserve being named for their share in Zada’s misfire) which even features that most recent of horror movie clichés – the cellphone that is unable to get a signal.

On her was to Aokigahara Forest, Dormer meets Australian travel journalist Kinney who speaks Japanese and offers to guide her through the forest where she faces a series of nightmarish encounters of the crass kind…

To give the two leads their due in keeping in with the spirit and setting, their performances are as wooden as the terrifying trees through which they travel, together and alone, facing unsurprising shocks and scares including – presumably refugees from a Japanese version of Macbeth - a trio of hideous witches, along with a hanging corpse, flesh-crawling worms and far too many overdone sound effects.

When a Japanese guide informed Our Heroine that those few people who return from the suicide wood “Come back angry” I couldn’t help thinking that they wouldn’t be half as angry as anyone who paid to sit through this tosh.

Strictly for genre completists - and best watched on DVD with a fast forward button to hand.

Alan Frank

USA 2016. UK Distributor: Icon. Colour.
93 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 27 Feb 2016