The Forgotten Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
DVD released by 101 Films
Written and Directed by Steven Berryessa
2011, 85 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 28th April 2014
Ron Berryessa as Frank
Olivia Bishop as Elena
David Eby as Capt. Michael Colister
Luke Hatmaker as Noah
It's a handy film that comes with its own review in the title. Having learned no lessons from the fate of 2004's Julianne Moore thriller or 2009's Christian Slater TV series of the same name, The Forgotten risks it, hoping that its low-budget tale of a post-apocalyptic future is enough to ensure memorability. Sadly, it isn't.
Three years after the world grinds to a halt thanks to an apocalyptic world war, we see civilisation fallen – society dragged down to the level of tribalism and complete anarchy. The closest thing America has to a leader is the Reverend Josiah Phelps, having fought his way to power atop the rubble of the old world. Enter the mysterious Michael; husband to a murdered wife and father to a kidnapped daughter. Holding Phelps responsible, Michael sets about finding his daughter and enacting his revenge. Elsewhere, a man in a cowboy hat befriends a young woman, and a lady and her infection-proof son travel across the country, attempting to avoid cannibals, zombies and racist hillbillies. It's like the last series of The Walking Dead, except not dragged out for far too long.
Given that the evil religious leader is named after the infamous Pastor Phelps of the Westbro Baptist Church fame, you should expect no subtlety from The Forgotten. Indeed, it's a film which opens with white supremacist hicks burning a black woman at the stake while ranting obscene racial epithets throughout. It aims for the atmosphere of The Walking Dead or The Road, but the amateur-hour acting fails to sell it, leaving Phelps's opening speech feeling desperate and lazy. Unless you have the charisma of Michael Rooker, it's probably best to keep away from that sort of material. To its credit though, The Forgotten manages its characters well, splitting them into three small groups and having them cross paths, towards the end, for the finale. There's not a decent actor among the lot of them (the pouting soldier and his wooden father-in-law are particularly awful) but the leisurely pace and interesting story keep things just on the right side of tolerable. Just.
A slow, considered and occasionally ambitious low-budget post-apocalyptic thriller, The Forgotten is much better than it could have been. Side-lining its zombies and keeping the rape to a minimum, it's a character-driven road movie that makes the most of the limited resources it has to hand. Let down by terrible acting and an over-reliance on swearing and 'edgy' writing (at one point stooping to really old – and really bad – dead baby jokes), it's an opportunity squandered.
The Forgotten may ultimately live up to its title (I've already forgotten most of it) but at least it won't be remembered for the wrong reasons.