The lore of Japan’s Aokigahara (AKA ‘the suicide forest’) has grown to reach everywhere in the world, including modern Western culture. The idea of a forest that has an energy that calls for hurting people to enter and take their own lives is not only a scary idea, but also a pseudoreality. While there isn’t any true ‘scientific’ data to answer any of these questions, the numbers show that there is in fact a phenomena occurring here.
Director Takashi Shimizu (Ju-on: The Grudge) brings us a film that explores both real facts and extreme mythology in a gripping, gritty picture. While the 2014 American release of ‘The Forest’ had a similar idea in mind, the film was hollow and carried only one note. But ‘Suicide Forest Village’ has so much more to offer.
When a group of friends discover a bizarre, black, cursed box beneath one of their homes, all who encounter it usually find themselves meeting their death. Exorcisms and physicians prove to be useless, while a literal Hell comes after these kids and their families. Eventually, the only option they have left is to bring it back into the suicide forest where it’s believed to have come from, and offer it back to the fabled village that supposedly lives in the heart of it. Nothing could prepare them for the dangerous journey before them.
The film starts with a first-person shot YouTube vlogger doing a hike through the forest who goes missing live during her stream. This helps set up the stakes and the Legend for those unfamiliar with it, while also showing us a different filming style within the same film. But the box enters the picture as almost a red herring, and it isn’t immediately obvious what the connection is between the two. But the movie is extremely dark, set up with set piece after set piece, and ends in a world I never would’ve imagined. It’s fresh, it’s scary, and it has levels of gore that are almost on Fulci’s level.
This is a seasoned horror director being given a moderately large budget and going balls to the wall. It was released last year in Japan but just hit the US last month. It’s a very good time that I’m sure will surprise you in one way or another.
“Suicide Forest Village” is currently streaming on Tubi, Vudu, Amazon Prime, and Screambox.
‘Til Next Time,