“The Forest” is an American (I advise you to pay attention to this) horror film that tells about the Japanese forest Aokigahara, in which people commit suicide.
We are told a story about a young woman, Sarah Price, who receives a call from the Japanese police. She is informed that her twin sister Jess, who lives in Japan, has gone missing in the Aokigahara Forest. The police assume that she is most likely already dead, since several days have passed, but the main character does not believe and decides to find her sister herself.
She flies to Japan, meets Aiden, a journalist who, after hearing the whole story, decides to write an article on it for a magazine. Together with a local forester, they go to the forest. Along the way, the forester tells that, according to popular beliefs, yurei (restless spirits of suicides or people who died a violent death) live in Aokigahara. They cannot harm, but cause hallucinations. There is also an important message at this point in the film: “Don’t believe what you see here. All this happens not in the forest, but in your head” – which collects all the meaning around itself.
Further actions are crumpled. Sarah and Aiden stay overnight at the tent, which belongs to the sister, and the forester leaves and tells them to stay where they are until he arrives. The main character sees someone in the forest, runs and meets the spirit of a Japanese schoolgirl who says that a man should not be trusted. On the way back, she falls and injures her hand. Aiden uses this as an argument to get away from the tent and look for a way out. Later, the forester returns to this place, finds no one and leads a search party.
The trust between Sarah and Aiden gradually collapses, but in the end, the two of them find themselves in an abandoned house in the forest. There is a walkie-talkie, and while Aiden tries to turn it on, Sarah begins to hallucinate. It seems to her that a locked Jess is writing to her from the basement, who orders to kill a man. The heroine does this, goes down with a knife into the basement, where she sees another hallucination: her parents are dead. The “ghost” of the father grabs the heroine by the hand, and she tries to unhook him with a knife. We are shown that she is saved, but at the end it turns out that, under the influence of a vision, she opened her veins and actually died.
In parallel, her sister Jess, who turns out to be alive, hears the search party and runs towards them. She escapes, but at the end she says that Sarah is most likely dead, because her sisterly connection tells her so. Everyone leaves, but the forester turns to the forest and sees the mutilated ghost of the main character.
The whole essence of the film lies in the phrase that the forester said: “Do not believe what you see here. All this happens not in the forest, but in your head.”
“The Forest of Ghosts” is about the fact that, first of all, you need to be afraid not of external dangers, which, perhaps, do not even exist, but of your own reactions to them. A person under the influence of fear can do terrible, thoughtless things, for which he risks paying with his life. The film is about the fact that we should always look inside ourselves, study our reactions to circumstances and take care of our mental state.
The heroine in the end did not suffer from ghosts, but only from herself. She went into the woods in an unstable emotional state, which eventually turned against her. She should first solve her problems, stand on her feet steadily, and only then start saving someone else.
Typical American view of Japan
At the beginning, I asked to pay attention to the fact that the film is American, without the participation of Japan. In fact, in the “Forest of Ghosts” there is no Japanese flavor at all. Let’s see why.
All the ghosts in the film look typical American, the way they are made everywhere: with black veins all over their bodies, rotten teeth and scary smiles. Such an image of ghosts is a purely European tradition, not corresponding to the Japanese one, in which they look like simple dead people.
The ghost girl’s school uniform does not correspond to reality at all. The actual school uniform usually consists of a navy blue blouse with a sailor collar and a long, pleated skirt. The ghost girl (who, by the way, feels like she’s wearing a junior high school uniform while she’s a high school student herself) is wearing a typical “Japanese schoolgirl” outfit that’s popular in Western culture and doesn’t match reality.
Yes, perhaps the director wanted the images to be “recognizable”. However, if someone undertakes to create a story that takes place in another country with a different culture, then he should still pass on its traditions, and not just sculpt “recognizable” European images where it is out of place.
Despite the fact that the film has a certain meaning that the director probably wanted to convey, it cannot be denied that this picture is a passing horror film. The forest of Aokigahara is taken in it not because the creators really wanted to convey a different culture, but because this place already has fame, thanks to which you can get more money.
“Forest of Ghosts” is a crumpled, unrevealing film that is immediately forgotten after viewing. As a horror film, it does not frighten, because the only trick that the creators resort to is screamers. It has no intelligible plot, no beautifully conveyed culture of another country, no good acting.