Stars: Clem Tibber, Shaun Dingwall, Elarica Gallacher, Lyndsey Marshal, Isaura Barbé-Brown, James Capel, James Doherty, Carys Lewis | Written by Oliver Frampton, James Hall | Directed by Oliver Frampton
[NB: With the film now – finally – available to buy in the UK (The Forgotten is out today from Metrodome), here’s a repost of my review of the film from the 2014 London Frightfest]
There has been, over the past few years, a growing trend in British horror for setting movies in abandoned housing estates and tower blocks. Joining the growing ranks is The Forgotten, which sees a father and son forced to squat in an empty London council estate scheduled for demolition, seemingly abandoned by the mother. A dark, creepy and foreboding place, the flat is no place for a family; even less so after 14 year old Tommy starts to hear strange noises coming from the boarded-up flat next door…
Shot on a London council estate scheduled for demolition, that was once used for location shoots on UK police drama The Bill, The Forgotten is, like all good horror films, not just about the physical, and in this case, psychological aspects of fear. It’s also a fascinating character study, dealing with the breakdown of the family unit, loss/grief, societies underclass and, of course, how you can never truly escape your past.
In a stunning directorial debut, Oliver Frampton crafts a movie that, even with its supernatural element, never truly feels like a contrived “movie”. There is something eminently true to life about his directorial style and the sublime choice to shoot predominantly handheld, with some truly superb cinematography by Eben Bolter (who also DP’d fear-flick favourite The Borderlands and Paul Davis’ short The Body) only enhances the reality of this movie.
But it’s not just the technical aspects of the film that shine. The cast do too. In particular the two central roles of Tommy and Carmen, Clem Tibber and Elarica Gallacher respectively, that are so natural and god’s honest down-to-earth performances that it’s hard to believe that most of the characterisation was scripted. The two have a real chemistry which really helps drive the story, even during it more unbelievable aspects. Special mention must also go to Shaun Dingwall, a familiar face on British television, who here, as Tommy’s dad Mark, is given the opportunity to run the gamut of emotion from loving father, to victim, to… to say would spoil the films reveal. His performance, even during the films quieter scenes, was – for me – one of a man teetering on the edge of loosing his family and his dignity and doing his damndest to hang on to both. And the scenes where cracks begin to show in “facade”, show an actor on top of his game – it’s hard not to believe Dingwall connected on some level to his character and the situation.
Of course The Forgotten is still a horror film and as such it does fall prey to the odd cliche here and there, however it’s the supernatural aspect of the film which turns out to be its weakest link. Well, that and the incredibly clunky final line! It’s in the films last act that it all starts to fall apart somewhat – what started out as eerie noises from next door turns into a full-blown hysterical haunting that almost, almost… turns into a Poltergeist-esque parody; and the “twist”, the films big explanation, is somewhat of an anti-climax given the fantastic story that has proceeded it. Then there’s the aforementioned final line. A line that was not apparently in the original script but was shot and eventually used in the finished edit, a line that, given its literal use, I think, makes the films point on societies “forgotten” underclass somewhat moot.
Still, The Forgotten is a fantastic British horror movie that, even with its flaws, should be seen by all and marks director Oliver Frampton and writer James Hall as ones to watch.
The Forgotten is out now on DVD and VOD from Metrodome.