I like a good twin movie as much as the next guy – probably more – but let’s be clear. The Forest is not a good twin movie. It’s not a good movie at all.
Through her freaky twin telepathy, Sara (Natalie Dormer: Hunger Games, Game of Thrones) knows something’s wrong with her sister Jess, living in Japan. She knows she’s alive and in danger, although the authorities calling to verify Jess’s missing person status believe she is dead because she’s gone alone into the suicide forest on Mount Fuji.
Well, off to Japan Sara goes, to enter the forest alone, stray from the path, see ghosts, listen to the advice of creepy school girls who appear in the middle of the forest at night (because there’s nothing at all suspicious about that), and just generally make bad choices.
Every individual has specific buttons horror movies can push. Some people are afraid of clowns, some of enclosed spaces. Some of us have a pathological terror of the woods. Some of the same of us have a twin sister. So, the idea of getting lost in the dark in a forest full of angry ghosts and ghouls as you hunt desperately for your twin sister – well, for some of us, these are buttons that should make it really easy for a movie to be scary.
Here’s what I’m saying – I am the audience for this movie, and it was as scary as an episode of Three’s Company.
Dormer’s performance is far more lifeless than those stiffs hanging from the trees, and director Jason Zada’s overreliance on jump scares and inability to develop atmosphere guarantee a tedious walk in the woods.
This weekend marks the Twinsburg, OH twin festival. We have a particular weakness for the idea of this festival, and for films about twins, likely because Hope is a twin and her sister is bat-shit insane. She’s a vicious, hard-hearted killer. Wherever she goes, carnage follows.
We’re lying. She’s a lovely person, as are George’s twin sisters (see the unfortunate haircut pic below).
We’ve noticed that a lot of onscreen twins are not so nice, though. Here are some of our favorites.
Dead Ringers (1988)
The film is about separation anxiety, with the effortlessly melancholy Jeremy Irons playing a set of gynecologist twins on a downward spiral. Director David Cronenberg doesn’t consider this a horror film at all. Truth is, because the twin brothers facing emotional and mental collapse are gynecologists, Cronenberg is wrong. Because of patient vulnerability, doctors who lose it are always scary, and Dead Ringers exploits that discomfort brilliantly. Irons brings such flair and, eventually, childlike charm to his performance you feel almost grateful. The film’s pace is slow and its horror subtle, but the uncomfortable moments are peculiarly, artfully Cronenberg.
Twin Falls Idaho (1999)
This is a lovely, haunting film clearly informed by Cronenberg’s twin flick, but the result is both slyer and more vulnerable. Written by, directed by and starring twin brothers Mark and Michael Polish, the film settles into a rundown motel where conjoined brothers seek their estranged mother, befriend a prostitute, attend a Halloween party, and separate to contend with the lonesome reality of individuality. It’s a hypnotic, weird but lovely ride.
The Other (1972)
Director Robert Mulligan (To Kill a Mockingbird) is a master of slow reveal, feeding us information as we need it and pulling no punches in the meantime. It’s rural 1930s, and Ada (Uta Hagen), the sturdy German matriarch who’s been trying to run the farm since her son’s death last summer, is troubled. Sweet Niles seems terribly confused about his twin, Holland. Holland’s the rascal and Niles is always worried about his mischief getting them into trouble. So, Ada worries about Niles, Niles keeps himself busy around the farm, and bodies pile up like lumber. Mulligan twists to that same nostalgic, heartland approach he used so beautifully with Mockingbird to inform a stunningly crafted, understated film that sneaks up on you.
Basket Case (1982)
When super wholesome teen Duane moves into a cheap and dangerous NY flophouse, it’s easy to become anxious for him. But that’s not laundry in his basket, and it’s the lowlifes, thugs, and derelicts in his building who are in real jeopardy. Belial is in the basket. He’s Duane’s formerly conjoined twin. What he really is, of course, is Duane’s id – his Hyde, his Hulk, his Danny DeVito. And together the brothers tear a bloody, vengeful rip in the fabric of family life.
Stuck On You (2003)
Not all twin films are dark, brooding or horrifying. Stuck on You, for instance, follows a pair of amazingly well adjusted conjoined twins – optimistic ladies’ man Walt (Greg Kinnear) and supportive wallflower Bob (Matt Damon) – who decide to move to LA to follow Walt’s dream of acting. Expect Farrelly brother silliness, a good heart, fun cameos, and excellent onscreen chemistry from the twins.