This film market itself as “J-Horror” despite the fact that it is a SyFy Original and has a predominantly white cast (even though it is set in Japan, which is another topic entirely). The main character, Maiko (Kaitlyn Leeb, who has set herself to be a big time B-Horror babe with roles in Wrong Turn 4, the three-breasted woman in Total Recall, upcoming film Wolves and a recurring role on “Bitten”) sets a college thesis project with classmates at her college in Japan (full of white people) to find where her mother committed suicide and perform an exorcism. This will be filmed. And she intends to perform an exorcism. Their journey lead them into the famous “Suicide Forest”
We start out with vague dreams and memories from Maiko’s youth, she is on a swing and her mother turns into… pretty much the girl from The Ring. Or The Grudge. Basically, we have been down this road before.
Maiko and co., a crush, a blonde BFF and a trusty camera man come a long. They are followed by 3 bully/prankster types who disrespect “Suicide Forest” and meet the most grisly of demises… but so do others… even if their intentions were good. And that’s what ruins it, after one prankster steals a watch on the trail: we all know that they are going to get axed. But Maiko’s posse …well, it could be said that they are voyeurs, that they are interlopers, that they are exploiting the suffering of others in the name of academia; all of those things are amoral and accurate BUT that was not set in the guidelines by their cliche and stereotypical guide, Jin (Hiro Kanagawa, Godzilla, “Almost Human”).
The gore is moderate, the tension is weak, the main characters are over all well developed and relatable. But still the more pressing of matters is that the “suicide forest” is a real thing.
Aokigahara at the base of Mt. Fuji was the setting for a novel, published in 1960 that featured a pair of lovers committing suicide, it started before then but instances of suicides and deaths have increased alarmingly since. It is said that people go there to contemplate life and death and that those who have passed permeate the trees.
Aokigahara is also the setting of Matthew McConaughey’s next film.
Ehhh, thanks for the lesson: but this only gets a 2 out of 5.