We Revisit a Movie Review from 2016


Movie Chat: The Forest

Once a week I’ll be discussing a Book or Movie/TV Series I love. Or posting a submission from a reader/author about a movie or book in the horror or zombie genre. Sharing the love of a book or movie as if you were talking with a friend.


The offering this week is a movie that I was interested in when advertised, and the review just makes me want to go rent it more.  A creepy forest and an inquisitive heroine make a good mix. Review by Toni V. Sweeney, who shares info on her book, Child of the Dark World.



Movie Review:

This is one of those movies touted as based on an actual place and theoretically “true events” in that it occurs in a Japanese forest called Aokigahara and capitalizes on its reputation.

A young woman is told by Japanese police her twin sister, a teacher in Japan, is missing, having gone into a certain forest which people generally only do when they wish to commit suicide. This happens so often it’s treated with a rather ho-hum, if sympathetic, attitude. They’re not bothering to investigate…she went into the forest, she’s probably dead…why bother?

Of course she flies to Japan and also enters the forest, insisting on staying all night with an American she meets along the way…

Much is made about the fact the two are twins and can’t be distinguished from each other when in actuality, they look nothing alike (other than the same actress playing both parts—Natalie Dormer, whom I’ll always think of as Anne Boleyn from The Tudors—because one has dark hair and wears heavy make-up while the other is blonde and barely wears any, and they merely resemble each other as ordinary siblings would.) I’m thinking if this had been portrayed as a psychological thriller instead of horror, delving into the twin aspect and the parents’ deaths, it would gone over much better.

The ending to this movie is inevitable, though it does raise a few questions of two sisters going into the forest and only one coming out…and why that specific one? I truly wished for a bit of an epilogue explaining a point or two.

After the final credits, and dissatisfaction sets in, it may occur to the viewer that this movie has two levels.

Watched superficially, there’s really nothing new, a typically half-way good American remake of a probably better Japanese film. Ulike The Ring, which left me shying at shadows for weeks, it does have a few moments of shock which actually made me jump, then laugh sheepishly for doing so. There’s also a startling lack of blood and gore. The so-called horror is more insidious…caught as flashes of figures in the dark glimpsed out of the corner of the eye, almost sensed instead of seen. It’s the other layer that’s more…disturbing…and the little frissons of dread start to tingle along the skin…

Viewed with the intention of seeing past the obvious, the story has more depth than one realizes. That’s where the “horror” movie stops and the surreal, symbolic narrative begins, but since symbolism is lost on a good many of us—and I admit I missed most of it, except in retrospect—that’s why a most will be greatly disappointed.

Therefore…pick your level of entertainment and go with it.  Is it a mere filler for an evening when there’s nothing on TV and you don’t want to watch reruns? Or is it something for discussion with like-minded savorers of subtle horror films?

For this dichotomy of purpose, I’ve given it a 4-star rating.





Two-year-old Robbie Chambers has a problem.

Since he was born, things have appeared to him, creatures no one else can see. They speak in a secret language, and lately what they say is very disturbing, especially the entity calling itself Robbie’s father.

Robbie isn’t aware of the things happening before he was born, how he was conceived to bring imprisoned creatures from another dimension to once more enslave the Earth. He can’t understand the mad and possessive love his father had for his mother, or that Drexl von Dorff’s love still exists in whatever Hell his soul now dwells.

Robbie loves his Mom and his new stepdad but “Daddy” says Dr. Daniel Walker is dangerous. He has to die…Robbie must kill him.

Every little boy wants his father to be proud of him.

Is Mommy going to become a widow for the second time?


Neither Lisa nor Dan saw the subtle changes taking place in Robbie’s attitude toward his stepfather.

Playing on his blanket on the floor, he’d sometimes watch them, his round, childish face holding an expression that in an adult would’ve been called calculating. The way he felt about the tall man confused Robbie. He recognized Dan, had a vague awareness in his inadequate memories of him always being there. Dan’s presence was coupled with his mother’s…for as long as Robbie could remember, and yet…

The emotions he felt when he looked at the tall man were confusing and conflicting and he couldn’t understand why. Dan made him laugh, and his mother happy.

Confusingly, Robbie felt safe when Dan held him, as safe as he did when he was in his mother’s arms, but when he was placed on his blanket to play by himself, or in his bed, whether by one or the other, he felt a brief start of anger.

It was only after several weeks that it happened…

~ * ~

Robbie was alone in his room, nearly asleep, that spark of resentment smoldering in his subconscious…

…and then they came to him…the brightness in the air, visible in the glow of the nightlight by the door. They were moving things…living…not mere dust motes as his mother thought.

Robbie wasn’t afraid of the things. Unknown to Lisa, they’d been with him all his life, even while he lay in his bassinette in the hospital nursery. They called themselves the Dark Ones, and spoke to him…needed him, they said. At first, he was frightened by their presence, but they soon assured him…

      We were sent by your father…he wants you to help us…

Robbie had only the faintest idea of what father meant, thinking it had something to do with the tall man, but if that was so, why didn’t the man simply tell him, instead of sending the things to speak in his place? Nevertheless, they made him feel secure, and enabled him to realize his father was someone other than the man with his mother…and he understood he had to do as his father wished. Though they didn’t speak as his mother and the tall man did, he knew he had to help them. They taught him their secret language, their words evolving in his mind. He was a good pupil, learning so thoroughly in his childish eagerness to please that he almost forgot how to speak to those in the human world. He’d started to shut everyone out, but they told him they didn’t want that.

We searched…she took you away…but now we’ve found you again…you’ve come to us and we’ve brought someone to meet you…

…and the new entity appeared…larger than the others, a glowing sphere moving and swelling…reforming and changing until it was vaguely man-shaped… It was tall and frightening because, unlike the others, it had features…Robbie felt he should recognize them and because he didn’t, the thing flamed with disappointment. He had a sense of a corona of hair as red as his own, buring around that familiar-unfamiliar face as the creature hovered over Robbie’s bed.

Don’t be afraid…it hurried to assure him as if it understood his fear, though he tried not to show it. The creature moved what might’ve been a hand, vaporous inside the flames. Robbie felt a gentle caress to his cheek.  I’d never hurt you…you’re very dear to me, my son

He looked up at the thing, eyes meeting ones of a startling green within those flames, and the voices in his head quieted so only one remained and that one told him what he had to do…



Toni V. Sweeney has lived 30 years in the South, a score in the Middle West, and a decade on the Pacific Coast and now she’s trying for her second 30 on the Great Plains. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art and a diploma in Graphic Art and also produces book videos. Since the publication of her first novel in 1989, Toni divides her time between writing SF/Fantasy under her own name and romances under her pseudonym Icy Snow Blackstone.  In March, 2013, she became publicity manager for Class Act Books. She is also on the review staff of the New York Journal of Books and the Paranormal Romance Guild.  Recently she was named a professional reader by netgalley.com.

More about Toni at:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/tvsweeney

Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002BLQBB8

MySpace: https://myspace.com/tvsweeney

Twitter: @ToniVSweeney