Movies like The Forest make me upset that horror does not on the whole get the critical fair shake it deserves. It has a decent premise that it does not quite live up to, though it has plenty of interesting moments. For most genres, that translates to respectability and a Rotten Tomatoes score of approximately 60-75%, but for horror, it means dismissal and a Tomatometer as low as single digits. If the scares are not up to snuff, then neither is the praise.
The Forest is indeed not all that scary, but while it is disappointing, it has enough elements to make it worth watching. Suicidal thoughts, a disorienting location, repressed memories, paranoia, disturbing folklore, and ghosts exploiting all of the above make for a potent mix of anxiety. In a dual role as twin sisters, Natalie Dormer frequently adjusts her personalities, occasionally switching characteristics between the two. It is a tricky performance that requires the support of better editing and writing than is on display. Ultimately, The Forest does not know if it wants to be ambiguous or answer all its mysteries; it is too eager to be the former and too overstuffed to be the latter. Still, it manages to distinguish itself in a genre that usually settles for the same old tricks.