French mini-series The Forest is a slow-paced mystery revolving around the disappearance of 16 year old girl Jennifer and her friend Maya. As the series progresses and the plot thickens, The Forest evolves from a detective mystery to a much more involving familial drama as secrets close to home are spilled and the tension rises. The series itself is deliberately paced too, taking its time to really dive into the heart of the drama as it switches from the lush forest setting to the suburban town nearby throughout the 6 episodes. While some of the story does fall flat a little, the acting itself remains solid throughout with a sudden burst of energy late on as the killer is revealed and a dramatic finale leaves the show on a high.
For much of the series’ 6 episodes, the story follows Captain Gaspard Deker (Samuel Labarthe) who leads the investigation into the disappearance of a 16 year old girl with local cop Virginie (Suzanne Clément) and wildcard Eve (Alexia Barlier), a lonely woman with a mysterious background. Together they try to piece together what happened to Jennifer with a much more immediate development involving Virginie’s daughter Maya providing the show with an extra burst of substance. With hints of a paedophile ring and a shadowy background for many of the characters that slowly unravels as the episodes tick by, The Forest keeps you guessing who’s behind this conspiracy until the penultimate episode before launching into a finale that increases the drama and pacing, while finishing the show with a definitive end as the plot threads are resolved.
As you might expect from a slow paced mystery series, there’s an awful lot of time dedicated to interviewing potential suspects and piecing together the whole story. Some of the supporting cast are genuinely interesting though and there’s just enough hints and clues dotted throughout to help The Forest sustain a level of believability thanks to its grounded acting, especially given some of the more questionable, unrealistic plot points that develop through the series.. Still, for those who enjoy a good mystery, The Forest does at least manage to keep the intrigue going until the final episode, answering some crucial questions raised early on whilst providing an impressive finale to round the show out.
The Forest doesn’t necessarily do anything unique or special that other mysteries haven’t done before, nor is it particularly quick paced or edge-of-your-seat gripping. The Forest seems quite content to take its time uncovering plot points and even longer to show how each of the characters have reacted and adapted to these moments. While this certainly helps to build some character and drive forward each of their arcs, it also leaves little room to really advance the story as quickly as it perhaps should. Still, for those who like a slow-paced mystery The Forest is worth checking out, ticking all the usual boxes you’d expect from this genre without really exerting itself beyond that.