A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Not a "message movie," but characters do choose to help others (some more selflessly than others). The movie may also encourage teens to discuss the issue of suicide.
Positive Role Models
Though the characters are helpful and interesting, they don't really learn or grow, and their behavior isn't exemplary or worth emulating. And their helpfulness doesn't pay off in the end.
Violence & Scariness
Bloody wounds; gory images of dead bodies with blood pooling around them. Lots of scary ghosts, scary sounds, and jump-scares. Hanging corpses in a forest. Character falls into a cave, with a painful injured foot. Creepy maggots. Knife held to throat, character stabbed in chest, knife stabbing at clutched fingers. Talk and images of suicide. Shotgun shown.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A character alludes to picking up college girls by memorizing poetry.
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One or two uses of "s--t," "damn," "goddamn," "Jesus" (as an exclamation).
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Products & Purchases
One shot of Nike shoes. A View Master toy is part of the plot.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some social drinking. Characters share beers at a bar while talking. Spoken story about a drunk driver killing people.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Forest is a horror movie set in the real-life Aokigahara forest near Japan's Mt. Fuji, where many people go to commit suicide and which is rumored to be haunted. There are lots of creepy ghosts, hanging bodies, scary sounds, and jump-scares; some blood is shown, and characters die. A knife is used to cut and stab, and a shotgun is shown. Language is infrequent but does include uses of "s--t" and "goddamn." There's some social drinking, and a scene of characters talking and sharing beers in a bar. Sex isn't an issue. As far as horror movies go, this one isn't terrible, and horror hounds will be interested. And fans of Natalie Dormer (The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, etc.) will want to see her in her first major starring role. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This ghost story starts off well, with an interesting setup and characters, but then it starts relying too much on cheap jump-scares and eventually lets the mystery slip away and fall apart. Director Jason Zada clearly started out with some good ideas, combining images from J-horror and American scary movies, as well as a terrifying forest setting, with its hideous mixture of crawling life and creeping death. And Dormer, who stole scenes in The Hunger Games films and on Game of Thrones, brings unexpected depth; she creates a touching relationship with ... herself, playing her own twin.
On the downside, THE FOREST uses the same sudden percussive sounds and visual effects that most other horror movies use, and as the story goes on, things become more muddled. The storytellers clearly want to keep some kind of mystery alive, but their juggling act starts to fall apart, relying on shocks instead of ideas. It's an admirable attempt but ultimately a disappointment.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.