Review of “The Forest”

Sara has been following Aiden and Michi for hours now, her voice hoarse from screaming. She’s trying to find her sister, Jess, and save her before it’s too late. All around her is a sea of green trees, dead corpses and skeletons, as well as colored rope, which are tied onto trees, but no Jess. This is the Suicide Forest.

The Forest” is a horror movie that depicts a story of an American girl named Sara trying to save her twin sister, Jess, who was suspected of planning to commit suicide in Aokigahara Forest located at the base of Mount Fuji.

Sara and Jess have always had a connection where they could sense each other and feel when each one was in danger. When Sara gets a phone call from the Japanese police, she immediately goes to Japan to find her sister. At the entrance of the forest, she finds a lady who finds dead bodies from the forest.

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The effects of what happened to Sara by staying in the forest for too long. Screen shot from the official movie trailer.

The lady tries to stop Sara, but with the help of a journalist, Aiden, and a tour guide, Michi, she navigates her way through the forest to find her lost sister. But sad thoughts start to creep into her mind, making her imagine sights that never happened. She ends up not being able to trust anybody, and accidentally cutting herself.

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A picture of the forest, blocking a path too dangerous and far from the designated path. 

Aokigahara Forest is an actual forest located at the base of Mount Fuji. It is a popular tourist attraction, with many people visiting it every year. It grew after the eruption of Mount Fuji, on top of the dried lava. This forest is nicknamed as “Jukai,” meaning “Sea of Forests,” because people can only see a sea of green while looking down from it from Mount Fuji. Not only is it a tourist attraction, it is a notorious place where many people decide to commit suicide, which is why Aokigahara Forest is also commonly known as the “Suicide Forest.” According to the documentary “Aokigahara: Suicide Forest,” it “is the most popular suicide destination in Japan,” with “over 100 bodies” found each year.

In my personal opinion as a person who doesn’t like horror movies, “The Forest” was not worth the ticket price. The holes in the plot are what lost my interest of this movie. Sara is new to Japan, so she had no choice but to trust Aiden.

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Sara, Michi, and Aiden finding a dead body while patrolling the forest.

However, on the way, she starts doubting Aiden’s true motives when she sees a picture of her sister on his phone. She wondered if he was really interested in her story and just wanted to help her for an article. Some of these scenes made me confused. The movie never fully indicates what Aiden’s true motives are, why he lied to Sara, or what kind of person he was. These were questions that are not clearly addressed in the movie that made the plot line vague with a lot of holes.

While some people are completely entertained by this movie, others are left extremely aggravated. This movie addresses a sensitive topic of suicide, and many people are angry that it takes the serious topic of suicide lightly without actually thinking about the loved ones of the deceased.

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A tent that symbolizes hesitant people who are contemplating suicide. Screenshot from the official movie trailer.

In the movie, there is a mention of how a tent set up in the forest symbolizes people who are hesitantly thinking of committing suicide. This is confirmed by the documentary, “Aokigahara:Suicide Forest.” However, what the movie fails to mention correctly is the meaning of the ropes. In the documentary, it is said that the ropes serve the purpose of helping people hesitant to commit suicide find their way out if they were to change their minds. However, in the  movie the ropes that are tied onto trees serve the purpose of finding the bodies after they had died. This kind of makes me think that the movie is once again not trying to send the message of preventing suicide, but rather saying that suicide is inevitable.

While it is true that one will find a body or a trace of somebody most of the time at the end of the rope, the movie fails to mention that these people are indecisive about dying. The biggest difference in regards to the content and plot is that it sends out a message that people commit suicide because they are attacked by angry yurei, literally meaning “dim soul,” which are

the-forest_nws
Sara is getting chased by a yurei, an evil Japanese spirit, who are after her soul in order to make Sara into one of them. Photo Credits to Creative Commons.

the Western versions of ghosts. The movie mentions that yurei targets people with sad thoughts into killing themselves.

I do agree that the movie interpretation that trivializes the seriousness of suicide. I think that the movie should have given hope to those contemplating death.

In Japan, there are police signs in the forest that persuade people not to commit suicide and instead talk to the police before going in too deep into the forest where one can get lost.

While this is just a typical horror movie, as it “struggles to transform its spooky premise and haunting setting into memorable or unique on-screen-scares,” said Ben Kendrick from Screen Rant, it fails to send the message of the prevention of suicide.

Overall, it was a mediocre and typical horror movie with the same scares that didn’t make the movie stand out. It did not do the unique setting of a true forest justice as much as I thought it would. I would give this a rating of 2.5/5 stars.

Author: Jennifer Jung

Jennifer Jung is a senior this year, and it is her second year as a reporter for the Eye. Even though she is originally from Korea, she has been in Singapore since she was five. This is her 11th year at SAS. Some of her hobbies include reading, watching movies, hanging out with friends, as well as sleeping. She can be contacted at jung20163@sas.edu.sg.

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