Directed by Jason Zada, starring Natalie Dormer, Yukiyoshi Ozawa and Taylor Kinney, A woman (Natalie Dormer) searches for her twin sister within a Japanese forest filled with horrors.
Horror films are notoriously difficult to get right, they need to possess a clear element of fear without becoming comedic and yet utterly gripping and intelligent at the same time.
To begin with, my desire to watch this film was owing to my enjoyment of the horror genre as well as being a fan of Natalie Dormer’s work. The premise is an intriguing one, twin sisters who feel a connection to one another and are alerted each other are in danger. Combined this with the Aokigahra forest, a region rich in Japenese mythology where those who wish to commit suicide venture. These two elements should create a fascinating horror film.
This film disappointingly falls apart in the third act, as despite frequently hearing the phrase “Don’t believe anything you see”, Dormer’s character far too quickly falls into the trap of doing this exact thing. It then becomes a confusion of screaming, running and utter darkness mixed with the occasional jump scare. Without spoiling anything, there is a side-plot to the film which is never fully explained nor answered.
Though this film could easily have created a similar horror feel to that of Shutter Island for its phycological mystery, it instead leaves you feeling utterly confused. Whether it was the writers intention for the audience to piece together events for themselves is perhaps unclear, as perhaps not enough bread crumbs were left to be able to do so.
Where I think it missed a step, was in the removal of any reality or a moment of retrospection as the clues are pieced together. To spend so much time in a forest where clearly some sort of hallucinogen or perhaps toxin exists is only gripping for so long before the audience is left confused and struggling to find purpose in what is real and what is in the protagonist’s mind.
For those interested in Japanese culture but who are unaware of this region or the mythology surrounding it, I would recommend this film as this section is thoroughly engaging and interesting, it is only an hour and a half long after all.
A strong attempt at a psychological horror film rich with Japanese culture, however, it fails to clearly define fiction and reality without any real answers as though the film has been cut short.
RECOMMENDATION – If you have an interest in Japanese culture, then I do recommend this film.