Aokigahara Forest, Japan’s ‘Suicide Forest’ is genuinely horrifying. This disappointingly bad American horror movie set within it – not so much. As many as 100 bodies are found every year in Aokigahara, at the foot of Mount Fuji. Visitors describe abandoned cars in the car park and tourists taking pictures of bodies hanging from the trees.
In ‘The Forest’, ‘Game of Thrones’ actress Natalie Dormer (scheming Margaery Tyrell) does her best playing identical twins. We meet her as smart, high-achieving Sara, who gets a call from police in Japan with news that Jess, her wild, rebellious sister is missing, last seen entering Aokigahara. Jess gets on a plane, instinctively sensing that Jess is still alive. Locals warn her that she is ‘too sad’ to go into the forest while an American travel writer offers to accompany her with a Japanese guide – but does he know more about Jess’s disappearance than he’s letting on? There are a few ideas knocking about in the script – including repression of childhood trauma – but the silly, hand-me-down scares just don’t chill.