Deep in stark woodland at the base of Mount Fuji, restless whispers echo as the light fades on a mid-winter afternoon. Here, amongst a maze of roots, a lone figure takes her life, binding her body to the branches and her spirit to the undergrowth. Years later as the crows scatter, Miko and her college friends head into Suicide Forest. Miko yearns to abide a Halloween ritual steeped in demonic tradition which will release her mother's trapped soul. Filming their journey amongst the shadows, strange things start to happen; angry murmurs and sightings of ghosts warn there are those who do not want them there. In the sea of trees an ocean of lost souls rises up, closing heavy boughs around Miko and her friends. Suddenly, the path to life is barricaded by the dead who have nothing to lose...
‘Sometimes you get lost in the forest; sometimes the forest loses you.’
Set in a suicide forest in Japan (but filmed in Canada), it is the location that elevates this film beyond the ordinary. It looks wonderful, eerie, beautiful and is effectively lit.
The characters unadvisedly exploring the forest are a fairly likeable bunch of teens (which isn’t always the case) – there are the ‘nice’ kids (Maiko, Kyle, Terry and Amber) and there are the ‘idiots’ (Craig, Brody and Skylar - who think it’s a good joke to pretend to be a hanging corpse) – but as it turns out, the ‘idiots’ are more entertaining than their more saintly counterparts, especially as Maiko is, sadly, the least interesting of them all. Inexplicable, gory deaths and imaginative set-pieces abound.
The storyline doesn’t appear to make any sense other than our group of young friends are all victims of ‘a curse’. At one time it seems as if the police are involved, but events ensure they are as much victims of the curse as anyone. And yet, as the final reel reveals, they are at least in league with the evil. The confusion starts to become enjoyable toward the end, as if there is a dangerous chaos on display, but the film ends before this takes a satisfactory hold.