Forty nine days ago Jason’s girlfriend Ariana disappeared in the forests underneath Mt. Fuji, but when Jason grows closer to a new woman, Ariana’s vengeful spirit comes back to torment her former lover.
Forest of the Living Dead takes place in an actual forest called Aokigahara, otherwise known as the Sea of Trees, an extremely dense forest located around Mt. Fuji in Japan. The forest is supposed to be so dense that it completely blocks out the world beyond its borders, sound and all. Once you’re inside of Aokigahara you will be cut off from the rest of the world entirely, nothing seeming to exist outside the confines of the forest. It plays with your senses to be inside of Aokigahara, a deep feeling of loneliness supposedly taking over with it seeming as if only you and the forest exist. The denseness of the forest and its ability to play with your senses is only a small part of why the forest has a worldwide reputation, one that is very, very dark. The Sea of Trees has a much different, much more ominous name, The Suicide Forest. Sadly many people in Japan go into the forest for the sole purpose of taking their lives, using the total isolation of Aokigahara to end their existence in solitude, knowing they will be left alone and unlikely to be found in time for anyone to stop them. Numbers range anywhere from seventy to over two hundred people a year who go into Aokigahara simply to end their lives, but it’s gotten so bad that in the last few years the numbers are no longer published, the Japanese government hoping that not publicizing the numbers will help to keep its reputation downplayed. They’ve even put up signs begging those that go into the forest with suicide on their minds to call someone and talk it out, their lives being worth saving. It’s a very sorrowful thought to think of all those people being so utterly alone when they need someone most. My heart truly goes out to them, and it seems pretty despicable that a filmmaker would cheapen what these poor people have had to go through by making a shit movie they had no intention of even bothering to put any effort into. I think Aokigahara would make an excellent setting for a horror movie that really took a hard look at suicide and both the depression that causes it and the devastation felt by those left behind, but as the background for a movie that was just a pathetic little piece of garbage filmed to make a quick buck it’s disgusting. I don’t usually get so morally outraged, myself not really having much in the way of morals, but suicide is something that breaks my unbeathing heart. With that in mind I’m just going to say fuck the people that made this movie, fuck them hardcore. With my little mini rant done and out there now, I guess I should get on with the review and explain further why I absolutely despise this fucking movie, but let me explain the storyline first.
Our film begins with a woman in a forest professing her love to the camera before a plastic bag is shoved over her head. The scene then shifts to a naked woman named Nicole trying on different outfits while her professional photographer boyfriend Jason stares off into the distance. It’s a woman’s despondent death one minute, then BAM, ass. A loud bang is heard that freaks them both out for reasons I couldn’t figure as it’s just a bump you’d hear in an apartment building, even one for the more financially affluent. Jason goes to investigate while Nicole picks out which dress she wants to wear and goes off to finish getting ready. All of a sudden Jason hears a scream coming from Nicole’s direction, and by the time he is able to get to her the only thing we are treated to is a look of horror on his face before the screen fades to black. The next morning Jason is being interrogated by the authorities because it seems the horror on his face was due to him finding Nicole with her face mutilated, and he’s the prime suspect. Nicole continually tells them that Jason had nothing to do with it though, and he’s finally released, meeting up with Nicole at his apartment because she’s too terrified to stay at her place, that apparently being where everything happened previously. She strangely asks him to assure her that “it wasn’t her,” repeating it over and over again, begging him to tell her both that she is crazy and that he still loves her. They eventually retire for the night, but when Nicole gets up to go to the bathroom something chases her out of the apartment by scrawling “he will never love you” in blood on the walls and whispering it into her ears. The following morning we get a little bit of backstory on Jason and his previous girlfriend Ariana who disappeared exactly forty nine days prior. It’s here that the movie completely degenerates into a steaming pile of shit that becomes damn near unintelligible, piddling along like a drunk in a hamster ball. Ariana is some kind of ghost that the Japanese government want to keep hidden, some cop is determined to pin her death on Jason, and Nicole is found dead in a different country or something, I don’t really fucking know. I kind of gave up despite using every ounce of energy I had to force myself to continue paying attention. Oh, and Michael Madsen is in it for some reason.
As you can see from above, the living dead title might just be more than a bit misleading. Forest of the Living Dead, also known as The Forest, is more about a vengeful ghost/demon thing than it is a zombie. It’s never really explained but Ariana is supposed to have been transformed into a demon somehow. That beginning scene with the woman in the forest and the plastic bag, that’s Arianna killing herself in The Suicide Forest because she found out that Jason was cheating on her with Nicole, and when she killed herself she became a demon who could only torment Jason and anyone close to him after being dead for forty nine days. It has something to do with Japanese culture and their ancestor rituals, them believing that a person is ready to be reborn forty nine days after death. They don’t explain a lot of this in the movie, you have to do the research yourself. Of course, if you do, you’ll find out that the little bit the movie does explain is an extremely bastardized version of actual Japanese mythology. Basically, don’t expect anything to make sense when it comes to whatever the fuck Ariana is supposed to be. One thing she is certainly not though is a zombie. I guess technically the title kind of works, I could see ghosts being considered a subcategory of the living dead, but it’s obvious that the “Of the Living Dead” part was added to “The Forest” just to fool idiots like me who might think it was a zombie flick because of the new, improved title. The people who made this movie don’t have any sense of shame. They showed that when they exploited a serious subject like suicide for a quick buck, not intending to at all do the subject matter justice, and they showed it when they updated the title to fool more people into watching it. Though with the lack of any kind of empathy, an obvious observation after seeing they had no problem using a subject like suicide to line their pockets, I’m not sure why them creating a misleading title would surprise me.
In a movie that is an absolute pile of shit, there are several turds that stand out. They chose to call themselves actors. The actors in this piece or garbage are just atrocious, easily some of the worst I’ve ever seen. I went to my little cousin’s preschool Thanksgiving Day play and the preschoolers showed about the same prowess for acting that the talentless hacks who pretend to be actors in Forest of the Living Dead show. It was further evidence of how little the people who made this movie cared about what they were making. The acting was so absolutely awful that I can’t see any of these people doing any better at their auditions for the parts, assuming there ever were any auditions and they didn’t just start throwing people into various roles and say fuck it. It almost seemed like they pulled these people in off the street right before shooting began, but somehow these people have gotten roles in other films. I have no idea how, but there it is. They showed almost no emotion the entire film, just bland, passionless performances. People were dying around them in horrible way and it looked like they could care less. There were times when something horrendous would happen and they would barely respond to, acting as if finding out someone was mutilated was on par with dropping a pen or knocking over an empty glass that once had water in it. Even their dialogue was spoken in monotone voices that conveyed absolutely no feeling whatsoever, deepening the sense that no one in this movie cared about anything that was happening. It made what was already a bad movie even worse. The absolute worst though was Aidan Bristow as central character Jason. His entire life is falling apart as those he cares about are murdered by his dead exgirlfriend and the man looked like he couldn’t give a damn. His own life could be in danger and he still looks like he couldn’t give a damn. It was one of the worst performances I’ve seen. The actors in the movie were absolutely pathetic. I still have no idea why the fuck Michael Madsen was in it. I actually enjoy Madsen’s performances in nearly everything he’s in, except for this movie where his talent is utterly wasted. Someone had to have some dirt on him to get him into this garbage. Otherwise I’m just going to assume he was very drunk when he signed the contract. You could tell that we was brought in just so they could say they had him too because he’s only in it for five minutes or so, popping up for a minute here and a minute there. There was no reason for him to be a part of Forest of the Living Dead.
I don’t think great actors could have saved this one either way though considering that the movie is a cluster fuck of bad writing, bad acting, and bad audio. This movie was so bad I felt like ripping my eyes out most of the time, scratch that, all of the time. My girlfriend had to stop me from burning my DVD player at the stake as I became convinced my DVD player was a warlock trying to melt my brain. The story was just as atrocious as everything else in this movie, jumping around in ways that made no sense whatsoever, adding elements that need to be there, things that didn’t matter like Jason’s problems with getting women to leave him alone, his friend’s hacker skills that somehow developed from his love of internet pornography, or the Japanese government’s involvement with the Yakuza, the Yakuza helping them to keep the people killing themselves a secret so that tourism isn’t hurt. Every little detail added on was more pointless than the last one and made little to no sense. It was like an experiment in pointlessness, and to make matters even worse, plot points will change at random from things stated earlier. The Yakuza’s involvement with the government is a perfect example. At first it’s explained they help keep things quite for tourism’s sake, it’s then changed to a reason involving them wanting to keep shipping lanes open, until finally it’s because of some mystical need to keep the Suicide Forest’s power in check, and it’s not because they are delving deeper into the government’s secrets, it just changes whenever the filmmakers needed it to. This happened many times and made for an absolutely horrible viewing experience. Just because they didn’t think you’d be miserable enough while watching Forest of the Living Dead, they also made the audio excruciating to listen to. It was so poorly recorded that it’s way off, actually shaking the TV while you watch, going from very low to very loud. Some movies do this for dramatic effect or to scare the viewer, Forest of the Living Dead does it because they were too lazy to clean and edit the audio. Their lack of care was obvious when they would film certain filler scenes like a train passing by or birds flying around a building and the sound would be so degraded that it made old 70’s home movies sound like professional jobs.
I used to have nightmares about a shadow man trying to kill me, now I have nightmares of this movie trying to force me to watch it. There is absolutely no reason to waste your time on one of the worst horror movies I’ve seen. I regret even the dollar I spent on it.
The Undead Review
Directed By: Shan Serafin (Misfire)
Starring: Aidan Bristow (Fragmented, Claire), Johnny Young (Lonely Boy, Crossing Over), Christina Myhr (My Funny Valentine, Born Bad)
Written By: Shan Serafin (Misfire)
Released By: 611 Films and Lightning Media
Release Year: 2011
Release Type. Straight to Video
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Rotten Heads: Empty Skull