Movie Reviews 243 – Forest of Death (2007)

Forest of DeathI’m beginning to believe that the much vaunted Pang Brothers may be categorized in the class of ‘one hit wonders’, but being two brothers fittingly had two hits with The Eye and Bangkok Dangerous. Forest of Death released on the heels of Re-Cycle falls squarely in the pattern of moody films that skirt the edge of horror thriller, but in this case it doesn’t deliver the expected chills or the drama.

The film begins with a collage of various TV reports reporting on the strange phenomena of young adults going to various forests around the world and committing suicide. However detective Ha Chun-Chi (Shu Qi) knows that one of the supposed suicides was a murder, but time is ticking away for her to prove the incarcerated suspect (Canadian Lawrence Chou) is indeed a murderer.

She enlists the help of botanist Shum Shu-Hoi (Ekin Cheng) who is working on a theory that the forest plants and trees are not only sentient, but can communicate amongst themselves. Shum’s challenge is to get his girlfriend TV reporter May (Rain Li) to take his work seriously and not exploit it by hosting her low brow, sensationalist TV show that categorize reported sightings and events as silly supernatural ghost stories.

Despite placing clear markers along her trail into the forest to the reputed murder site, Ha inexplicably gets lost when trying to leave. Her rescue comes at the hand of Mr. Tin (Lau Siu-Ming), the forest ranger who lives in a tent in the woods. But there is an odd mein to Mr. Tin and a personal secretive shrine in his abode. Ha slowly breaks Tin’s facade and his crusade.

While there are a few interesting moments, the film suffers from a muddled and unclear storyline that once pieced together falls short in payout. The trademark cryptic and dour imagery familiar with other Pang Brother films is present, but in the end what we’ve got here is nothing more than a thinly disguised love story with a few unearthly elements. Even the love story falls flat when an abrupt turn at the end unconvincingly switches the characters being developed through most of the film.

Consider this a film that lost itself in the forest of superior Asian horrors.

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