Natalie Dormer plays twin sisters in the movie The Forest

Natalie Dormer plays twin sisters in the movie The Forest

REEL REVIEWS: A forest by any other name

It did sound and look pretty good, but the moments of near scariness were fleeting and atypical.

  • Jan. 17, 2016 4:00 p.m.

Identical twins Sara and Jess (Natalie Dormer) have always just known when the other was in trouble, even if separated by a great distance for a long time.

After Jess moves to Japan to teach English, Sara begins having feelings that something might be wrong. When Sara cannot reach Jess, she phones the school which informs her that Jess was last seen going into Aokigahara Forest at the base of Mount Fuji. The forest is known as the Suicide Forest and Sara is told that normally, once people go into the it, they do not return. Believing Jess is still alive, Sara travels to Japan to find her.

We say, “The idea is scarier than the film.”

TAYLOR: Aokigahara Forest, which has a third name, the Sea of Trees, does contain a small portion which tradition tells us is haunted by demons. It is true that there have been and continue to be suicides committed amongst these trees at the feet of Japan’s greatest mountain. This, in and of itself, is pretty creepy fodder for a horror film.

Dark, scary forest plus corpses should be enough. But if this is to also be a movie in which something happens, we must see through the characters’ eyes to truly appreciate their fear. Thus we are privy to Sara’s hallucinations and dreams.

The problem is that these moments fall into the not-so-thrilling format of jump scares surrounded by stumbling around in the dark.

HOWE: I agree. The scares are just not long enough, for example you get a quick one or two second flash to make you jump and then it’s gone. What they should have done is drawn it out a little longer, building the tension. There is a little build up in this, by way of the soundtrack, which is one of the better scores for a horror movie.

TAYLOR: It did sound and look pretty good, but the moments of near scariness were fleeting and atypical.

HOWE: I enjoyed the concept of the film, the storyline is so-so and the acting is OK, but the movie just didn’t gel together for some reason. It could be the fact that I didn’t feel convinced that Dormer was able to pull off playing both roles of sisters. The sisters being so identical, even down to the birthmarks on their faces being exactly the same, is uncanny. If you are going to use the same person to play two people, at least give them each their own look, don’t just dye their hair and say there you go, two different people.

Taylor gives it 2 abandoned tents out of 5.

Howe gives it 2.5 protein bars out of 5.