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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Forest (2016) (Blu-ray)
The Forest (2016) (Blu-ray)
Universal // PG-13 // April 12, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $34.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by William Harrison | posted April 2, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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THE FILM:

Click an image to view Blu-ray screenshot with 1080p resolution.

Japan's Aokigahara Forest, known colloquially as the suicide forest, was the subject of two bad movies in the last year. The first, Gus Van Sant's drama The Sea of Trees was booed at Cannes and never got a domestic theatrical release. The second, The Forest, has none of Van Sant's lofty goals, but is equally as bad. Here, a young American woman flies to Japan to search for her twin sister, who was last seen entering the suicide forest. The setting is hauntingly beautiful, and the forest's mythology and history could support a compelling story. Instead, director Jason Zada's film is muddled and dull, full of narrative fits and starts and unrequited tangents into laughably bad, CGI-built ghost towns.

Sara Price (Natalie Dormer) is the good twin. Her sister, Jess (also Dormer), is the wandering train-wreck. Jess goes missing in the suicide forest, and Sara immediately hops on a plane to find her. At a small hotel adjacent to the forest, the owner shows Sara a room of bodies recovered from the forest. She later meets a journalist, Aiden (Taylor Kinney), doing a story about the area, and asks to accompany him and a local guide into the forest to find Jess. Once there, the dense woods and air of dread surround her, and Sara begins losing her grip on reality.

The Forest's biggest sin is how utterly disorganized the story is. The movie does not know whether it wants to be a psychological drama about tragic loss; a spook-house horror film with jump scares and audible stingers; or a dramatic thriller that uses a dark chapter in Japanese history to bookend its own story. The movie is also boring, and spends most of its 93 minutes following Sara's leisurely walk in the woods. There are very few scares, and even those are cheap and full of tacky CGI. The secrets lurking in the dark forest are compelling enough without dead-eyed, screaming ghosts. Another problem I had: SPOILER ALERT! If the filmmakers were trying to set up a multiple-personality purge instead of placing actual twins in peril they did a poor job conveying that. SPOILER ALERT!

I was surprised to see David S. Goyer's name attached to this movie as a producer. The Forest is a far cry from his normal blockbuster properties. Zada is best known for creating Office Max's "Elf Yourself" holiday ad campaign and several other interactive and social media-backed campaigns. That work did not translate well to this project, as the direction is muddled and unimpressive. Dormer is the only bright spot in the film. The English actress is lovely, and gives a committed performance despite the awful material. I hope she finds better work in the future. Another terrible "first week in January" horror film, The Forest squanders a creepy premise and compelling lead actress with cheap CGI effects and a terrible story.

THE BLU-RAY:

PICTURE:

At least the 1.85:1/1080p/AVC-encoded image is good. Looking every bit as sharp and clear as a newly shot film should, this transfer offers strong fine-object detail, fine delineation and expertly saturated colors. The forest setting could spell trouble in the form of bleeding greens, blurry pans or shimmer, but none of that is a problem. Neither is the darkness that cloaks the forest, as black levels are inky and shadow detail good.

SOUND:

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is good but not particularly memorable. There are the requisite stingers and screaming sound pans that rattle the subwoofer and roll through the rear speakers. There is also a fair bit of ambient noise in the forest, and dialogue and score are mixed in appropriately. English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles are included.

PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:

This single-disc release is packed in a standard case that is wrapped in a slipcover. An insert offers a code to redeem an iTunes or UltraViolet HD digital copy. Exploring The Forest (8:05/HD) is a short making-of with cast and crew interviews. You also get a standard Commentary by Director Jason Zada, a Still Gallery (HD) and a Storyboard Gallery (HD).

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Natalie Dormer is lovely. The Forest is crap. The Japanese suicide forest should have been a great setting, but this movie is silly and boring, with muddled mythology and a distinct lack of scares. There's nothing to see here, move along. Skip It.


Additional screenshots:

William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.

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