Forest of Death
Year of release: 2007
Director: Danny Pang
Producers: Danny Pang, Oxide Pang
Writer: Danny Pang, Cub Chin
Cinematography: Choochart Nantitanyatada
Editor: Curran Pang
Music: Payont Permsith
Stars: Hsu Chi, Ekin Cheng, Rain Li, Lau Siu-Ming, Lam Suet, Tommy Yuen, Lawrence Chou, Cub Chin
Rated IIB for disturbing imagery
Movie Review Index / Main Page
After a disappointing US debut with The Messengers, the Pang brothers make their return to Hong Kong screens with Forest of Death. Sadly, the journey back to Asia didn't seem to do anything for the duo. Forest of Death is a limp attempt to inject a new twist on the popular Hong Kong "ghost" genre.
The movie centers around a forest where a growing number of people are going to kill themselves; hence the title -- pretty crafty, huh? Anyway, Hsu Chi plays a detective looking into a rape/murder that happened in the forest. One night, she stumbles upon a TV program featuring a botanist (Ekin Cheng) who apparently has a machine that can use plants as a lie detector.
So, of course, she hires him to grill the suspect, and tada, the case is solved. But the machine also seems to have unlocked the mystery of the forest, which could have dire consequences for the duo.
Now, at first, it was nice to have a ghost movie where the plot was something other than "some kids get trapped in a haunted house". But when you actually watch this movie, the plot has more holes than a block of swiss cheese.
First off, you might think the cops would step up their patrols around the "deadly" forest, but nope -- all they do is put in one creepy old man (Lau Siu-Ming) in a shack. Secondly, a plant lie detector that would be able to be used as evidence in a court case? Hong Kong judges must be more liberal than I thought.
Finally, when the big "twist" at the end reveals the reason why the forest is "haunted", it's just plain ridiculous. At first, I thought it was a matter of bad subtitles, of which there are a ton of on this DVD. But lo and behold, there's a big CGI money shot that really proves once and for all that the Pang brothers need to take a break from film-making, because they've officially run out of ideas.
But it's not just the ending which proves this point; the whole running time of Forest of Death features Danny Pang running on fumes. The film is obviously trying to mimic the Evil Dead movies (perhaps not coincidentally, Sam Raimi was a producer on The Messengers), going as far as to directly take the "evil POV" shots from those pictures. But there's none of the scares, shocks, or laughs from those movies present here.
Even fans of the genre (what few there might be left at this point) or the actors involved here won't find too much of interest with Forest of Death, besides ninety minutes of decent-looking eye candy. This is just yet another generic Hong Kong ghost movie, and Lord knows we really don't need any more of those.