11th May2014

‘The Forgotten’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Ron Berryessa, Sam Dalton, Olivia Bishop, David Eby, Luke Hatmaker, Nomalanga Eniafe, Jesse Warrick, Annie Thurman, Phil Perry | Written and Directed by Steven Berryessa

The-Forgotten-DVD

Three years have passed since war destroyed the world. Civilization has fallen into anarchy and tribalism. In the shattered remains of the Southern United States, an old evil has returned and taken power. Led by the vile Reverend Josiah Phelps, a new Confederacy is built on the rubble of the American Republic. Michael, a lone warrior returning from the ruins of the front line, finds his wife murdered and his daughter kidnapped by the Reverend and his followers. He sets out to find his daughter and take vengeance on the men who killed his wife.

Merely five minute into The Forgotten you realise just what the hell you have let yourself in for watching this no-budget post-apocalyptic tale. Any film that starts with a self righteous white Southern psychopath and his posse spewing every profance racial epithet you can possibly think of before burning a black woman at the stake, which is then followed by another character blasting away two zombies – zombies who just happen to be black as well; well you get the picture… And just in case you don’t, director Steven Berryessa intercuts the opening credits with scenes of a bunch of white supremacists beating the hell out of a character chained up in a “boxing” ring like some sort of animal, whilst a group of white folks look on, cheering.

Yes, we’re in “any excuse to show totally offensive racism” territory here folks! Admittedly that may not have been the case on a part of the filmmakers but those opening scenes really don’t help set the tone of the film in any sort of positive way, even if they are ultimately not indicative of the film as whole.

It’s obvious, given that the enigmatic Reverend Josiah Phelps is named after the Westboro Baptist Church leader Fred Phelps, that Berryessa and co. were (hopefully) aiming for some damning indictment of the attitudes of Phelps and his ilk, but instead of damning their case, The Forgotten seemingly revels in them. It also doesn’t help that the entire cast and crew couldn’t act their way out of a paper bag, or that the entire film suffers from an over-abundance of ADR – which actually sounds like it was recorded in a studio – constantly jumping back and forth between on location sound and ADR pick-ups, completely pulling the audience out of the film each and every time it changes!

You have to appreciate any filmmaker that actually gets out there and shoots a movie – the time, money and effort it takes show a level of commitment that many will not achieve. But if you are going to invest so heavily in a film, at least try and make it watchable. We’re not in the era of the shot-on-video, direct to market shlockfests anymore, we left those days behind when the VHS era died its first death; audiences expect more these days – even for low budget flicks.

As a reviewer I always try and find something in a film, no matter the budget, to enjoy but sadly The Forgotten (aka Falls the Shadow) has no redeemable qualities that I can find. I did plan on watching the included “Making Of” documentary included on the DVD release but after 85 minutes of pure visual hell I decided I really DIDN’T want to know! But If you enjoy watching movies purely to rip the piss out of them whilst getting drunk then this may be one for you. Everyone else should avoid like the plague.

The Forgotten is out now on DVD from 101 Films.

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