2016 is set to be a year full of horror, with films like ‘The Boy’, ‘The Other Side of the Door’ & ‘The Witch’ set for release. We’ve already seen the brilliant horror western mash-up ‘Bone Tomahawk’ but I suppose that ‘The Forest’ is the first film we’ve had here in the UK completely devoted to the horror genre. With Natalie Dormer’s first lead performance. ‘The Forest’ certainly had potential, did it deliver on any of this though?
Let’s tackle the most important issue when it comes to horror movies first, was it scary? Well, I’m the first to admit that I’m a wimp when it comes to horror movies and I was able to watch pretty much the whole film without flinching. If you aren’t a fan of jump scares then you will really hate this film as this film is full of them. Now I don’t mind these types of scares, they certainly add to the tension and suspense and can be fun. However, when the film relies nearly entirely on this device for scares it’s quite obvious that what you’re watching isn’t a great horror movie. The only real fear that audiences will feel whilst watching this film will be during those times of anticipation where they are waiting for the inevitable and less frightening jump scare. The film is set in Japan and it tires to play on some of the horror of this country although this really doesn’t work too well and I imagine that any fan of Japanese horror movies would laugh at the efforts here.
As I previously mentioned ‘The Forest’ features the first performances in a lead role for Natalie Dormer who is probably best known for her role in the films ‘Mockingjay Part 1’ & ‘Part 2’. Dormer is certainly enthusiastic here and it’s clear to see that she is trying. Her performance is average, not terrible but not great but the material she is dealing with never works in her favour and probably contributed to this. One example of this would be the writing, Dormer’s character finds herself in this forest because she is convinced that this is where her missing twin sister is. Despite the fact that her sister is missing and in a forest widely associated with suicide her character is surprisingly calm for the majority of the film, there needed to be more urgency about this character. The rest of the cast are much the same, other than the twin sisters no other characters really get any development. In contrast to the poor character writing one positive from the film was actually it’s cinematography. The forest the characters find themselves in often looks really good on screen, especially some of the aerial shots near the start of the film. So even if the story line, characters and scares weren’t that impressive the setting and how it was shot was.
For a horror film to be a success I think it needs to be at least one of these three things; scary, clever or fun. Unfortunately ‘The Forest’ doesn’t really score highly in any of these categories. The premise and setting to the film were good and thanks to the cinematography we do get a real sense of the forest. The film is never boring but it could have developed its plot slightly more or taken itself less seriously because in the end ‘The Forest’ is just a pretty cliched horror film full of jump scares.
Rating – 3.5/10
Question: What is your favourite setting for horror films?
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