Saturday, April 9, 2016

Home video debut: THE FOREST answers the question, how dumb can a scary movie be?

From the looks of THE FOREST -- out this coming week on Blu-ray and DVD, after its Digital HD release last month -- this would-be fright film had a relatively high budget. Because some of the movie, at least, appears to have been shot in Japan, and since it supposedly takes place in one of that country's forests, a rather special one to which suicides come to end their days, the bigger budget would seem appropriate. Other than putting its ten million bucks to decent visual usage, however, there's almost nothing else good to say about this nitwit bit of second-rate twaddle.

Written by three people (who still could not manage to come up an even vaguely believable story) and directed by first-time full-length filmmaker Jason Zada (shown at left and clearly in hiding), this is a film in which the lead character, played by Natalie Dormer, below, cannot seem to do a single intelligent thing throughout the entire movie. Warned repeatedly not to do something, she will do exactly that. Every time.

We might accept this kind of behavior once. Twice is a slap in the face. By mid-point in The Forest, you'll be talking back to the screen. If the movie provided many (try any) scares, one might give it a mild pass. Instead it just keep getting sillier, as Ms Dormer, playing a set of identical twins, goes to this forest in search of her missing twin and proceeds to do one stupid thing after another, to the consternation of everyone around her -- but mostly to us viewers.

Those around her include a friendly journalist (Taylor Kinney) above, and a helpful guide (Yukiyoshi Ozawa, below, left). Other than these two, the film is mostly full of would-be scary "spirits" who inhabit the forest and induce newcomers to commit suicide. At least that's what the exposition tells us. What finally happens seems something else entirely and just as dumb as all that has come before.

I would call the movie a complete waste of time, but afterward my spouse and I admitted that we'd rather enjoyed talking back to the screen and marvelling at just how stupid a movie could be. We also get a dose of flashback/hallucination, as below, that takes us into the twins' past but doesn't add much to the story or to our empathy for anyone on view. Instead, it's simply a chance to show a little bloodshed, since the forest itself isn't providing much.

If this sounds like fun, the movie -- from Grammercy Pictures via Universal Studios and running 94 minutes -- hits Blu-ray, DVD this coming Tuesday, April 12 -- for purchase or rental. (It has been available via Digital HD since March 22.)

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