By Lucy Harbron - 19:43

"Your life is a precious gift from your parents"
As much as we all love a thriller, don't go see The Forest

From what I can find out on google, The Forest tells the story of a girl who goes to find her sister, who she thinks might have committed suicide, she gets lost in a forest and things get spooky. Sounds so harmless, but the setting and the context of the film move it from a classic horror to a classic case of insensitivity and under-representation.

The film is set around Aokigahara Forest in Japan, known as ‘suicide forest’ due to the massive number of suicides that take place there each year. In Japan, suicide is treated as an epidemic and in 2014, on average 70 people committed suicide per day. Yet in The Forest, suicide is merely used as a plot mechanism to lead into a typical thriller, made-you-jump movie…

The Forest minimises the issue. It fails to be respectful, and it fails to recognise the real-world implications as it brushes the issue of suicide and depression under a rug of suspense and classic horror conventions. It dehumanises and mocks the actual, real, tragic suicides that have taken place in the forest by failing to recognise the severity. But not just that, real people took their lives in this forest, and the movie TURNS THEM INTO ZOMBIES AND MONSTERS?! Put simply, it’s disrespectful, it only adds to the stigma of mental health by mocking it, and it dehumanises victims of suicide.

And what’s worse is that the film is being promoted with the hashtag #theforestisreal… Yes the forest is real, and thousands of real people have died there yet in this film these victims and the very real issues attached to Aokigahara seem to be minimised to the point of obscurity.

I saw a good point about the movie on twitter, where a girl asked how people might feel if someone made a horror film based around suicides off the Golden Gate Bridge, it would be met with anger and disgust. So why sit back and support The Forest?

Another glaringly obvious issue with The Forest- it’s focused around an area in Japan…yet all the main characters are white…

Here we have another clear case of Hollywood white washing. Asians are greatly unrepresented in western media and this films only serves to support this, and really take it to a whole new level. The film deals with parts of Japanese folklore surrounding Aokigahara, so to have white protagonists in a film that seems so deeply rooted in japan and Asian culture is a clear case of white washing, as well as being simply pretty disrespectful, and possibly mocking?

In conclusion, The Forest attempts to make the extremely serious issue of suicide in Japan spooky and furthers the issue of under-representation and white washing in Hollywood. I’m so happy to see critics slating the film as it just shows that minimising issues and dehumanising victims will never make quality content.

The film is disrespectful in so many ways. So please boycott The Forest, but do take the time to watch VICE’s documentary on Aokigahara and the still current, very serious issue of suicides in the forest and throughout Japan.


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