The Hollywood Reporter
As a paranormal buff, I’ve visited lots of haunted places in my life. However, there are some places not even I will ever go, one of which is Japan’s Aokigahara forest, or the Suicide Forest, as it’s more commonly known. If you’ve never heard of it, get ready for a crash course!
THR is reporting that Focus Features has picked up the North American distribution rights to The Forest, a supernatural thriller based on an original idea by David S. Goyer.
The project comes with Jason Zada attached to direct and a script by Sarah Cornwell. David Linde’s Lava Bear Films is producing the film along with Goyer and Nellie Reed under his Phantom Four banner.
Focus has set a January 8, 2016, release for the US. At the same time, Good Universe has partnered with Lava Bear to handle international sales on the film.
The Forest is set in the legendary Aokigahara forest, a real-life place in Japan where people go to end their lives.
According to the producers, The Forest centers on “a young American woman who comes in search of her twin sister, who has mysteriously disappeared. Despite everyone’s warnings not to ‘stray from the path,’ she dares to enter the forest to discover the truth about her sister’s fate, only to be confronted by the angry and tormented souls of the dead who now prey on anyone who crosses their paths.”
Cornwell rewrote the original script by Goyer.
Zada is a commercial and music video director who directed Take This Lollipop, a creepy interactive short that connected to Facebook and made it appear that a killer was stalking you. It was viewed more than 7 million times during its debut week in 2011.
As for the Aokigahara forest itself, here’s a snippet from Wikipedia:
The forest is a popular place for suicides, reportedly the most popular in Japan. Statistics vary, but what is documented is that during the period leading up to 1988, about 100 suicides occurred there every year.
In 2003, 105 bodies were found in the forest, exceeding the previous record of 78 in 2002. In recent years, the local government has stopped publicizing the numbers in an attempt to downplay Aokigahara’s association with suicide. In 2004, 108 people killed themselves in the forest. In 2010, 247 people attempted suicide in the forest, 54 of whom completed the act. Suicides are said to increase during March, the end of the fiscal year in Japan. As of 2011, the most common means of suicide in the forest were hanging and drug overdoses.
The high rate of suicide has led officials to place signs in the forest, in Japanese and English, urging suicidal visitors to seek help and not kill themselves. Annual body searches have been conducted by police, volunteers, and attendant journalists since 1970.
The site’s popularity has been attributed to the 1960 novel Kuroi Jukai (Black Sea of Trees) by Seichō Matsumoto. However, the history of suicide in Aokigahara predates the novel’s publication, and the place has long been associated with death: Ubasute may have been practiced there into the nineteenth century, and the forest is reputedly haunted by the Yūrei (angry spirits) of those left to die.
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