Predictably from the title, this film explores terror set in the “suicide forest” of Aokigahara. After a sequence that proves that Shimizu is still a master of building atmospheres, when a girl goes missing in the middle of her exploration of Aokigahara which she broadcasts live via the internet, we get acquainted with the protagonist. Hibiki (Anna Yamada) is her name, the secretive girl who is obsessed with the awesomeness of Aokigahara.
After Ju-On, Takashi Shimizu (last dealing with Kayako-Toshio’s terror in 2006’s The Grudge 2) found a “new toy”. Although the story is not directly related, Suicide Forest Village is a continuation of the “cursed village” series started by Howling Village (2020). Shimizu retains the distinctive touch that popularized the Ju-On series, but this time, these characteristics are not only strengths, they are also weaknesses. Best Movie Site
Hibiki spends every day surfing the internet, studying the myths there, while regularly communicating in a group of people with similar interests. But it seems that Hibiki never expected that the terror he had always read about would happen to him. Precisely after he found the mysterious box. Hibiki is not alone. The older sister, Mei (Mayu Yamaguchi) and three of her friends also participate.
We know the box will carry a curse. We know death comes with it. And as many J-Horrors have taught us, we know there’s nothing the characters can do, except hope they never find the box. Indeed, that’s where the point of horror of J-Horror. Terror is impossible to stop completely, and humans are powerless before it. Watching J-Horror is a process of looking forward to impending doom. Not against it.
In the eyes of many Japanese horror filmmakers, mysticism is raised not to be explained, but to be felt. Besides being scary, mystical phenomena are also confusing, strange, impossible to explain by reason. Shimizu has implemented that since his debut in Ju-On: The Curse (2000). Logic is omitted, while narrative is “happily” with too much complexity, so an attempt to build horror through uncertainty.
Suicide Forest Village is not much different. Writing the script with Daisuke Hosaka (Sadako 3D 2, Howling Village), Shimizu presents a plot that is quite difficult to digest, either because the time setting keeps jumping randomly, or the appearance of scenes that lack context. Of course, such a narrative form is not intended for all circles. Plus the slow tempo, some viewers will find it annoying. Movie Review
And it must be admitted, compared to the earlier titles in the Ju-On series, the Suicide Forest Village narrative is more tiring, due to the lack of terror. Yet when it appeared, the terror worked well. The gripping atmosphere based on anomalous scenes and creepy music by Takashi Ohmama became the main foundation. Shimizu is even able to take advantage of technology, which has recently been tested by several Japanese horrors but ended in failure (hello Sadako 3D). When Hibiki’s computer screen started to show something odd, I was reminded of the anxiety of browsing horror-themed stuff on the internet.
Unfortunately, once again, the quantity of terror is minimal. Shimizu is more ambitious to accumulate stories than to scare. I call it “stacking”, because Suicide Forest Village is like two films forced into one. Entering the middle, the focus shifts from Hibiki to Mei, in an attempt to Shimizu and Hosaka pour water into a glass that was already completely filled.
Aokigahara is also called the “sea of trees” because the trees are so dense. If you look at the photos, the trees seem like humans, who seem to be silent witnesses of the tragic deaths there. If Shimizu wants to suppress his ambition, Suicide Forest Village can produce horror that cultivates the above impression in a terrible way through its own mythological building. Top Movie