Jason Zada’s feature directorial debut, The Forest, centers on Japan’s Aokigahara Forest, also known as the suicide forest. Natalie Dormer leads the film as Sara, a young woman who rushes off to Japan when she finds out that her twin sister went into the Aokigahara and never came out. Even though many advise her against going in, she decides to take her chances in hopes that she can track her down before it’s too late.
Sara’s story is fictional, but the Aokigahara is the real deal so if you opt to catch the film when it hits theaters on January 8th, don’t be surprised if you go home and Google the location for hours. I certainly did. I’m a big genre fan with a soft spot for blood and guts, so I found it shocking that photos of stray camping gear and random personal items can be so incredibly haunting when you know the history of the forest.
While in New York City promoting the film’s upcoming release, I got the chance to talk to Dormer and her co-star Taylor Kinney about their own research into the truths of the Aokigahara Forest and about the challenge of delivering an entertaining and effective horror movie while still respecting the cultural importance of the location. You can catch that in the video below and, in case you missed it, click here for the “Would You Rather” portion of the interview.
Here’s the official synopsis for The Forest:
Rising with terrifying grandeur at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan, the legendary real-life Aokigahara Forest is the suspense-filled setting of the supernatural thriller. A young American woman, Sara (Natalie Dormer of “Game of Thrones” and “The Hunger Games”), journeys there in search of her twin sister, who has mysteriously disappeared. In the company of expatriate Aiden (Taylor Kinney of “Chicago Fire”), Sara enters the forest having been well warned to “stay on the path.” Determined to discover the truth about her sister’s fate, Sara will have to face the angry and tormented souls of the dead that prey on anyone who dares come near them. These malevolent spirits lying in wait for Sara at every turn will plunge her into a frightening darkness from which she must fight to save herself.