Sunday, June 5, 2016

3 Short Paragraphs: The Forest

2016, Jason Zada (Take This Lollipop) -- download

In Japan, there is the Aokigahara Forest or, the "Suicide Forest". The forest lies at the foot of Fujiyama, a dense, overgrown area rife with deep caves, commonly used as a place for the distraught to go and die. This is no urban myth; since the 1970s, hundreds have wandered into the forest to take their own lives. This gives rise to the idea that the forest is filled with yūrei, or "angry ghosts". Sounds pretty likely to me. The Japanese have not made a movie set there, very likely out of respect for what really happens. Buy David Goyer had no issue with milking it for a story treatment.

Natalie Dormer is Sara, a young woman who has a strong bond with her twin sister. Before the police contact her, to say her sister has gone missing in the forest, she feels something is wrong. She is on the first flight to Japan to find out what happened, as no body has been found. She is sure her sister is alive, but ... for how long? With some help from a fellow American, a journalist writing about the forest, and a guide who volunteers to locate the unfortunates in the wood, she ventures in. And lo, ghosts abound.

This is brilliant, albeit sensitive, source material, but... We are already post-Japanese horror movie craze and this is original material that just wastes all it is given. Dormer is more than competent but is given little to do other than be nervous & obsessed with finding her sister. The scares are mundane and the chance to invest in great mythological world building is lost in boring "dark woods are scary" terrain. There is just so little of anything to really get attached to, other than the lovely forest with the tragic history. So, will Zada in first feature, join the ranks of the "do enough to get a box office positive" or will he embrace the money he made, to make something more tangible next time round?