In the new film The Forest (in theaters this weekend), Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones) plays a woman who goes off in search of her twin sister after she disappears into Japan’s Aokigahara Forest, aka the 'Suicide Forest" — nicknamed as such due to the high amount of people who travel into the forest to kill themselves. And like many horror movies that use real-life locations for inspiration, The Forest utilizes Aokigahara's ghoulish history to help set up all the freakishness that awaits Dormer once she journeys into its hauntingly beautiful surroundings.
But what really goes on amidst Aokigahara's deep, dark, luscious woods? Vice teamed up with a local geologist for a 21-minute short documentary (via FSR) called Aokigahara: Suicide Forest, in which we travel inside the forest for a spooky tour that both provides backstory on its history, as well as some gruesome and heartbreaking discoveries.
Warning: Some of the images shown in this doc are NSFW
It's a compelling 21 minutes, partly because we have no idea what the geologist, Azusa Hayano, is going to stumble upon next, but also in an effort to learn why this particular forest is home to all of these horrific acts. After all these years, Hayano is still searching for that answer. At one point — as Hayano sits alongside the colored tape that people attach to trees in order to find their way out should they decide not to go through with the act — he ponders, "Studying how people coexist with nature is part of environmental research. I was curious why people kill themselves in such a beautiful forest. I still haven't found the answer to that."
Those interested in this topic should also seek out a new documentary called Angel of Nanjing. This one takes place in China, and follows one man's life quest to stop people from jumping off the Nanjing Bridge, the most popular place in the world for suicides. It's a startling look at the demons we all face and what — as well as who — it often takes to help confront them.
Meanwhile, The Forest hits theaters this weekend. Watch the trailer below.