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The Forest (Blu-ray Review)

the forest coverThis year’s early January horror release was The Forest, which allowed Game of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer a chance to take the spotlight in a leading role in a film focused on making a ghost story out of the infamous Aokigahara Forest in Japan. Of course, the key words there were ‘early January horror release’. I missed this one in theaters, but have now had the chance to check it out on Blu-ray. Find out if this simple thriller is spooky enough to watch at home or if you should take a hike elsewhere.

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Film:

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Dormer stars as Sara and Jess Price, a pair of identical twins. The movie opens with Sara’s spider senses tingling, as she can feel her sister is in trouble. She quickly receives a phone call from the Japanese Police who believe her to be dead after entering a forest known for being a place where people go to commit suicide.

Still having a feeling that Jess is alive, Sara ventures to Japan herself to find out the truth. It eventually leads her into the forest, where she is told bad things due tend to happen because of the mind playing tricks and the possibility of ghosts. She’s also told to never step off the path. Guess what happens…

To be fair, there are far worse January horror films out there. Okay, that’s not fair, The Forest is far from terrible. The film looks good and features a decent enough lead performance, regardless of how ridiculous the choices of some of these characters may be. You can really only do so much with a film that is so limited in vision. But really, given that I was expecting the worst from this, I was pleased to be caught up in some of the tension, as this film slowly unraveled.

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Unfortunately, the film actually does unravel as it goes along. Dormer may be doing her best to give life to two different characters, but the eventual reveals fall flat given how little I really felt the need to invest in her plight. Again, she’s fine in the role and is allowed enough moments to work as a modern scream queen, but in terms of emotional investment, this films comes up lacking.

The concept is actually kind of neat, as it is taking a real location and pushing a horror concept on top of it. Too bad the film is both too much in a hurry to let the forest be the place where scares happen and then too slow to be more fun, once we do get to the forest. That’s an impressive accomplishment, but the actual scares certainly aren’t. The film gets a little credit for trying to build psychological tension over gore (not that this is a problem), but the use of cheap jump scares is unfortunate.

I also have to question some of the choices made for how to scare the audience. The Forest attempts to build a backstory rooted in a tragic event in the past, but for all the potential that comes with what we learn about this element, the drive to get us there comes in the form of weird ‘boo’ elements and a Japanese schoolgirl. It is goofy to say the least.

The Forest is not a complete waste of time, but it once again feels like the result of needing something to come out that is simple and cheap, rather than really make the most of a decent horror premise. If it was at least more exciting that would help, but The Forest really does feel like a bland walk through the woods.

Video:

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail: The forest setting makes for some great scenery and the Blu-ray’s video transfer is clean enough to make it stand out quite well. The sharp and crisp image does well to support both outdoor and indoor locations, with plenty of clarity to give you a good view of what is to be seen in the heat of the moment.

Depth: Distance is handled well enough, when it comes to tracking the depth seen on this Blu-ray.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and inky, making good use of shadow when the time calls for it, in addition to nighttime and underground sequences.

Color Reproduction: This is a fairly stark film, but the forest environments build to some good-looking sequences when it comes to color. The colors are mostly pretty drab, but they still pop when necessary.

Flesh Tones: Facial textures are strong throughout.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

 

Audio:

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Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: You get a lot of atmospheric sounds and feels thanks to the score that gives you plenty of moments to know something is happening. It all sounds great due to the lossless soundtrack that does its job in making it all count.

Low Frequency Extension: Big horror moments bode well for the LFE channel.

Surround Sound Presentation: The film is mostly center-focused with the surprising amount of talking, but ambient noise and the score do make good use of the surrounding channels.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is crisp and clear.

 

Extras:

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We do get a commentary, which makes the extra features worthwhile, even if the featurettes are far too short.

Features Include:

  • Exploring The Forest (HD, 8:05) – A quick featurette with a look at all the aspects of the film.
  • Galleries (HD) – A collection of brief looks at different elements of the film set to music.
  • Storyboards (HD)
  • Feature Commentary with Director Jason Zada
  • Digital HD Copy of the Film – iTunes and UltraViolet

 

Summary:

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Given that I expected less, The Forest may make for a decent rental. It has little to offer for huge horror fans, but Dormer does her best with the role she is given. The Blu-ray is certainly fine, as it looks and sounds great and even has a couple extras to make this package more worthwhile. No reason to hope for true amazement, but I’ve seen worse trips to the woods.

Order Your Copy Here:

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

3 Responses to “The Forest (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    I agree with your score here. Watched this over The Invitation. Pretty much every horror jump cliche was in here inducing no jumps from me.

  2. Aaron Neuwirth

    You chose one of their worst reviewed films of the year over something that could have been interesting?

  3. Brian White

    I did solely because Gerard said Invitation was not worth your time. Kori does not like films heavy on talking and light on action so as you probably know, sometimes you have to let the woman lead the way. Does it go crazy at the end like Your Next? If so, I’ll definitely be all over it.