Taylor Kinney is known for his role as Kelly Severide on NBC’s Chicago Fire, but he’s starting out 2016 by jumping into a much more dangerous situation in Jason Zada’s The Forest. Starring alongside Natalie Dormer, Kinney travels deep into Aokigahara’s maze in search of a missing woman, but only finds Japanese horrors who make leaving extremely difficult. This is where psychological torment begins to set in, as mysterious figures begin to warp the minds of their prey – something Kinney’s character is forced to face in all its terror.
Fighting fires isn’t exactly the same as fighting lost Japanese souls, which is something that I wanted to discuss with Taylor during a quick promotional interview here in NYC. Not everyone can make the jump to horror movies, and Kinney certainly isn’t known for doing genre work to this point. During our interview, I chatted with Taylor about the challenges that are present when tackling a new, or foreign genre, and how he approached The Forest from his character’s point of view. That, and how difficult it was to make Serbia feel like Japan.
Taylor was quick to state that The Forest is more psychological thrills than true horror, and he sung the praises of Natalie Dormer as expected. Director Jason Zada was able to meet with Taylor and lure him into The Forest with the character arc of Aiden, mainly because of the tension-driven approach that was preached. The film is most definitely horror-based given my definition of the genre, but I definitely understand where Taylor is coming from. There’s certainly no slasher element – this is calculated thrills, and Taylor’s persona aims to disturb, not scare. No actor should be ashamed of participating in horror movies, but it’s good to set expectations correctly.
Meanwhile, during my talk with Dormer, the actress was quick to ensure that The Forest isn’t straight-forward horror, but a psychological thriller. The terrors that lurk in the fabled Aokigahara forest are meant to prey on their victim’s sadness, twisting emotions into nasty attacks. These are the demons that Dormer finds herself up against – the ones that lurk inside, ready to be exploited by Japanese Yūreis. The Forest is an American take on international legends, and one that’s full of demonic tricks.
It’s this demonic focus that brought me to discussing horror with Natalie Dormer, who shared her thoughts on her character’s deadly predicament. The psychological tension is what attracted her in the first place, as she expressed a love of overseas genre pieces like The Orphanage, wisely name-dropping Guillermo del Toro. Dormer showed an appreciation of the genre, and her own wishes to get tangled in the nastiness of inner monsters, but she also alluded to the excitement of getting physical when stunts call for a little rough-and-tumble acting. Dormer is one tough cookie, especially when a scene calls for it.
Check out the full interview with both stars above, and be sure to catch The Forest when it opens on January 8th!