The holidays are over, and Star Wars is done stomping around for the most part — it’s still making money but not quite as hand over fist as it once was — so it’s time to start dipping the toes back into the water with some new releases. Only two this week, and once actually an expansion, but you need to wait for the waves to calm down after the big kid has jumped into the pool.
The Forest has really got nothing going for it except its premise: spooky things happening in the real life Aokigahara Forest, an area near Mt. Fuji in Japan known for the large numbers of people who go there to commit suicide. Nothing against Natalie Dormer, who’s a pretty fair actress and incredibly fun to look at, but “horror story in a suicide forest” is what’s going to get people through the door. It’s a horror film in a field basically void of them right now, and that premise is going to intrigue some people. But the film’s director started off as the Elf Yourself guy for OfficeMax. I’m not sure that isn’t scarier.
The real film of interest today is The Revenant, expanding from its very limited to go wide just in time for the Oscar nominations next week. Whereas The Forest doesn’t have much going for it, The Revenant is overloaded: Birdman director Alejandro Iñárritu and stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy. Oh, and a really mean bear. Seriously, that bear attack has been the highlight of the trailers, and even the subject of some wild speculation that he takes a really unhealthy liking to DiCaprio. All that aside, this looks like a visually stunning yet soul-crushingly brutal experience. I’m jazzed to see it, but I don’t know how it’ll play with a mass audience still coming down from the high of Star Wars. DiCaprio is still a draw, but this might just be too rough.
Just don’t tell the bear that. He might take it the wrong way.