Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)
Directed by: Jason Zada
Starring: Natalie Dormer, Eoin Macken, Stephanie Vogt, Taylor Kinney
Using a location synonymous with real life suffering for a horror movie is the height of bad taste. Hollywood seems to think tragedy is fine once it doesn't effect Americans. Try pitching a horror movie featuring the ghosts of those who died in the Twin Towers or Hurricane Katrina and see how far it gets you.
At the foot of Japan's Mount Fuji lies the Aokigahara forest, a stretch of woodland that's become known as 'The Suicide Forest', as it's that country's most popular destination for those wishing to take their own lives. Local legend has it that the forest is haunted by the spirits of those who make it their final resting place.
American Sara (Natalie Dormer) learns that her twin sister Jess (also Dormer) disappeared into Aokigahara and so heads off to Japan, convinced her sis is still alive. "Twins can sense these things," she repeats to many a doubting stranger. At a nearby hotel, Sara meets American reporter Aiden (Taylor Kinney), who agrees to accompany her into the forest, along with a local guide, in exchange for allowing him to write her story. The next morning, the three set off into the woods.
Dormer is miscast and lacks the vulnerability required for a horror lead; there's something too tough and capable about the actress for us to ever doubt she can take care of herself. The scenes in which she appears as both twins are laughably unconvincing; don't expect anything like The Social Network's Winklevoss Twins here.