Dormer Is In The Woods – – You Wont Believe What Happens Next!
Starring: Natalie Dormer, Natalie Dormer
Review written by Tom Bevis
Now, I’ll admit that I may be old fashioned, but I don’t believe the best part of a horror movie should be the rambunctious chirping of Adele lyrics after a character on the screen shouts “hello.” Okay. You got me. The first time was cute and funny, I laughed and had to resist the sudden urge to applaud the quick cleverness of my fellow movie-goers. But by the fourth or fifth time, it did more to illustrate exactly how boring the movie was than to playfully felate my funny bone.
The Forest follows Sara Price, portrayed by Natalie Dormer of Game of Thrones fame and accidental star of The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Parts 1 and 2 (what a mess to type out that is) as she searches for her missing twin sister Jess, portrayed by Natalie Dormer of Tudors fame and current love interest of Kermit the Frog (that IS her, right?) who has gone missing in the Aokigahara, Japan’s infamous Suicide Forest. Along the way, the story weaves in and out of various subplots including that of a park ranger who makes a hobby out of suicide patrols and an enigmatic and not-altogether-trustworthy Australian reporter who more or less screams Vice knockoff every time he opens his mouth, all of which are left perfectly unresolved.
Quite frankly put, The Forest is the kind of lackluster and lazy horror film that relishes in its predictability. Almost like clockwork, the script triggers a trite jump scare every few minutes. There’s a shady character lurking between two trees cast in deep shadows? Better believe the camera is going to jaunt to an ultra-closeup as that character flashes a maniacal smile. A girl crying along shrouded in fog in a weird semi-clearing? You guessed it, she’s got a ghost face! I’d like to give them credit for trying, but it seems like these thing is the result of a generic scare generator on some novelty website.
To make matters worse, the scares in the first half of the film are arranged in strange scenic non-sequitors, placed in fashions essentially unrelated to the pacing of the movie altogether. One moment, Sara is checking into a strange hotel established along a dirt road void of any vehicles in the center of the haunted forest. The next moment, she’s wandering down a narrow hallway, overhead lights flickering ominously. Cue a cheesy and obliviously ambiguous jump scare, then she’s waking up in her hotel room, stretching, face bright from a good night’s sleep.
Aside from the effortlessly awful attempts to provoke any semblance of a scare from the audience, there isn’t much to draw any kind of reaction otherwise. The dialogue is dry and typical, complete with such spoken wonders as “it’s just different this time” and “she’s my identical twin, if something was wrong, I would just know.” These gems are delivered by actors with all the thrill of someone placing an order at a drive-through window. Everything else she’s ever been in would indicate that Dormer is tremendously talented, but if I were going off this film specifically, I would be led to believe she tripped onto the set accidentally on her way to sing her solo at a high school musical.
To be fair, her support isn’t all that great, either. Yukiyoshi Ozawa, as the aforementioned park ranger named Michi, gets his time in the spotlight as he hangs his head lower than my nephew after I deny him a candy bar and slumps moping into the woods, looking back with all the pain of watching his career swirl down the drain. Taylor Kinney, as the reporter definitely not working for Vice, comes in a close second in terms of awfulness as he painstakingly dodges from fun-loving and chipper to grim and gritty to insane and criminal in an absolutely schizophrenic whirlwind.
To be honest, I’d have a hard time even recommending this film to the strange awkwardly aged audience group that seem to harbor an inexplicable love for these lousy PG-13 horror films. It doesn’t succeed in anything it sets out to do, nor does it manage to even try in any way that can be considered creative or original. This film is piecemealed together from parts of other movies, all of which manage to capture shreds of authenticity where this films feels like trying to fill a greatest hits tape after someone else grabbed all of the best bits. You’d be better off watching the short twenty-minute Vice documentary of which this film was surely based — the first half of the movie plays off almost like a shot-by-shot remake, anyway.