Desperate to reignite their passion and to resolve the nagging differences between them, a repentant husband (Slumdog Millionaire’s Ankur Vikal) brings his wife (Nandana Sen) to the Kumaon National Reserve, hoping to spend a quiet weekend amidst nature. What he hasn’t bargained for is running into an old college friend and former flame of the missus (Javed Jaffrey), who is posted there right under their nose as a forest cop, living with his motherless son. To make matters worse, a bloodthirsty man-eating leopard enters their guesthouse at night.

Judged purely on its thrills, The Forest, directed by Ashvin Kumar, delivers more than a few jump-in-your seat moments, and a tense finale in which it’s truly hard to predict who will triumph out of man and beast. The film also has some gorgeous wildlife photography, including a scene in which the protagonists traveling elephant-back witness the stunning sight of a tigress and her cubs lazing in the open.

Where the film falters though, is in its stilted dialogue and the uneasy use of English even by characters who shouldn’t be speaking it. The acting too is inconsistent, particularly by Nandana Sen who mostly mumbles her lines.

At 80-odd minutes, The Forest maintains a brisk pace, derailed only when the protagonists indulge in those corny ‘relationship conversations’ that yield no major breakthroughs anyway. I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five for director Ashvin Kumar’s The Forest. It’s worth watching purely for its chilling animal scenes, and for a nicely done pre-credits sequence involving three young kids playing hide-and-seek in the woods.

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