"When I first heard of Japan's infamous Aokigahara Forest I was immediately fascinated by this terrifying place that is inexplicably the site of numerous suicides each year," said McCreary. "David S. Goyer told me he was producing a new film set in this haunting location, and I was thrilled he asked me to compose its original score."
Not a stranger to writing music for scary productions, McCreary found himself genuinely frightened by The Forest. He described, "I watched an early cut alone, in the middle of the night, in my backyard studio. When the film was over, I walked slowly between the trees in the dark night and found myself genuinely freaked out! The film draws heavily from Japanese folklore, in particular the tales of Yūrei, beings similar to Western legends of ghosts. I wanted my score to support this connection to Japanese culture incorporating Japanese music. To do so I contacted my friend, [instrumentalist and composer] Doctor Osamu Kitajima."
Kitajima introduced McCreary to music producer and world-renowned percussionist, Hiromitsu Nishikawa. They set up an internet connection from McCreary's studio in Los Angeles to a studio in Japan. "I asked Nishikawa to find a children's choir to sing traditional folk songs, and he brought in a talented group of kids ranging in age from seven to nine," he explained. "With him [Kitajima] translating my requests into Japanese, I encouraged the children to sing softer and softer, slower and slower. Their schoolyard songs took on other-worldly qualities. Their gentle little breathy voices were genuinely frail and creepy, more effective than I could have ever dreamed. I used their songs throughout the film, as a cornerstone of the score."
"Of all the songs we recorded with the children's choir, the one that really got my creative gears turning was 'Toryanse,' a traditional folk song frequently played in Japan by traffic lights when it is safe to cross," said McCreary. "The melody is rooted in a common Japanese modal scale, with asymmetrical phrasing, unusual to Western ears. When slowed down to a crawl and whispered by children, 'Toryanse' becomes quite terrifying!" The tune is featured throughout the film, especially in the End Credits suite.