'The Forest' Movie Review

PHOTO: This photo provided by Gramercy Pictures shows, Natalie Dormer, left, as Sara Price, and Taylor Kinney as Aiden in Jason Zada?s "The Forest," a Gramercy Pictures release. PlayJames Dittiger/Gramercy Pictures via AP
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Starring Natalie Dormer and Taylor Kinney

Rated PG-13

Two out of five stars

The best thing about "The Forest" is that Japan’s Aokigahara Forest actually exists. It’s a place where people go to commit suicide. Isn’t that exciting? No, it’s not. It’s depressing, but when you use it to drive the plot of a movie billed as a supernatural thriller, it should be exciting. But is it?

"The Forest" stars "Game of Thrones" actress Natalie Dormer as Sara Price, whose twin sister, Jess, goes missing in Japan. If you’re a "Game of Thrones" fan but for some reason do not love Dormer as the scheming Margaery Tyrell, there’s probably something wrong with you. Yet from the beginning of this movie, I couldn’t help but feel she was miscast. The first few scenes are clunky and Dormer isn’t believable. It’s a rare complaint but her American accent sounds fake. Her boyfriend, played by Eoin Macken, is also attempting to sound American. I think. Instead, they sound like two people trying sound like they’re American. It’s distracting, but you get used to it.

Back to the story: Sara hops a plane and heads to Japan, where she learns Jess, a teacher, disappeared in the Aokigahara Forest on a class trip. Because apparently, it’s common practice to take a class trip to a place known as the Suicide Forest. Sara, because of her special identical twin powers, knows Jess didn’t kill herself, and is determined to venture into the freaky forest to find her.

Along the way, Sara meets Lady Gaga’s fiancé, aka Taylor Kinney, who plays Aiden, a hunky travel writer who offers to be Sara’s personal guide through the forest. Another important element here: The forest is supposedly full of evil spirits that will exploit your fears and make you hallucinate to the point where you want to kill yourself.

The story in "The Forest" is contrived, but director Jason Zada brings the creepy, on occasion. He just doesn’t do it enough. The misdirection and plot devices used to confuse and scare the audience feel like cheating instead of smart, organic thrills. Again, Dormer is a fine actress but this role just isn’t a great fit.