The Forest (2016)

(On Cable TV, November 2016) I won’t blame anyone for watching The Forest solely to see Nathalie Dormer playing twin sisters. After all, Dormer has had striking roles in TV shows such as Elementary and Game of Thrones, but her film career is only beginning and fans have to be happy with what they can get. The premise certainly does feel intriguing: Dormer plays an American woman searching for her sister, believed lost in a Japanese forest infamous for attracting suicidal people. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t do much with this premise. There’s little moment-to-moment interest in watching The Forest laboriously go through the motion of supernatural horror, especially given how the film doesn’t fully exploit the cinematographic possibilities of its forest setting. By the time the film plays with hallucinations, abandoned buildings, ghostly presences, tragic back stories and such, it’s obvious that The Forest is going to be a big ball of nonsense. And as usual for such a middling horror film, the dark ending feels more annoying than anything else, depriving us of anything like satisfaction. Dormer herself is fine, but the role doesn’t really allow her to do much but look scared for a solid hour. Otherwise, the directing is uninspired, the ending falls flat and the entire film feels tedious, as is usually the case for horror movies theatrically released in January. See The Forest for Dormer if you must, but otherwise there isn’t much here even for horror fans.

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