The Forest, a horror film released on January 8, 2016, tells the story of an American woman named Sara (played by Natalie Dormer) whose twin sister Jess (also played by Dormer) disappears to Japan. Sara goes on an investigation to find Jess and is led to the Aokigahara, a forest at the base of Mount Fuji that is also infamously known as the “Suicide Forest” because it is the placepeople go to end their lives. The film takes viewers on the journey with Sara through the forest, where she slowly becomes haunted and tormented by the spirits of Aokigahara. Directed by American director Jason Zara with screenplay by Nick Antosca, Ben Ketai, Sarah Cornwell, the film is overall offensive for white-washing a true Japanese tragedy, mocking family members of actual victims, and desensitizing the mental condition of suicide.
The Aokigahara Forest is an actual forest in Japan with a depressing past that has led it to become a legend all around the world as the second most popular location for suicide behind the Golden Gate Bridge. The beginning of the suicide trend in the forest were supposedly triggered from a novel that was published in 1960 by a man named Seicho Mastumoto called Kurio Kaiju, or Black Sea of Trees, that tells a story of two lovers committing suicide in the forest, causing the forest to be perceived as a good suicide location. The legend continues to grow with people being supposedly abandoned by their families and dying during periods of starvation in Japan. The dead are known to appear as spirits in white forms at the corner of people’s eyes. Over the years, the amount of suicides in the forest has increased from 75 people in 2002 to 108 people in 2004. Due to the rise of suicides in the forest, Japan’s police force does an annual sweep of dead bodies in the forest each year.
The fact that director Zara decided to create a film based on Japanese history and cast the main character as a blonde white girl is pretty pathetic. After looking at the list of the main cast members, out of seven of them, only two are of Asian descent. On the other hand, majority of the supporting roles were Asian. Zara could have considered casting Asian people for main roles since the film itself takes place in Japan. Overall the film is pretty racist when it comes to casting roles.
However, what truly makes The Forest so bad is the fact that it uses suicide and depression as a form of horror for entertainment. Suicide and depression are serious psychological and chemical diseases prominent all over the world and should not be used as someone else’s entertainment. The film disregards that the people who take their lives in this forest are actually real and have families. It basically commercializes the death of these victims, portraying them as horrifying demons who are out to kill forest dwellers, for views.
American entertainment has hit an all time low with the publication of this offensive film. I have boycotted the watching of this movie after hearing and researching about it and urge others to do the same.