REVIEW: The Forgotten (2014)
– By Kriss Pickering
When a father and son are forced to squat in an empty London council estate scheduled for demolition, 14 year old Tommy starts to hear strange noises coming from the boarded-up flat next door… (IMDB)
Britain has a long, proud and storied history of ghost movies. Whether it’s a “true story” like the brilliant When The Lights Went Out, or a gothic chiller like The Woman In Black everyone has a favorite paranormal flick. And now director Oliver Frampton has thrown his hat into the supernatural ring with his debut feature, The Forgotten.
Not to be confused with the 2004 Julianne Moore film of the same name, The Forgotten tells the story of the down on his luck Mark and teenage son Tommy, as they are forced to squat in an grimy abandoned London flat that is waiting to be demolished. This is the kind of place that you would not want to venture alone, where smack heads and drug dealers would not seem out of place.
Soon after moving in, Tommy starts to hear strange noises emanating from an adjoining flat, that he is assured is sealed up. Freaked out, he seeks the help of his new found friend, Carmen, who he met when she chased off three thugs who tried to mug him, to help him investigate if the flat is empty, or does indeed have someone, or something that is trying to communicate with him…
Young Clem Tibber, who plays Tommy, does a fantastic job. In fact all 3 members of the main cast are superb. It’s not often that you get a cast who do such a superb job of keeping the characters grounded, gritty and so believable. Clem plays Tommy as a shy and vulnerable lad, who is very much like a fish out of water in his new surroundings, sitting in near darkness with only a dim lamp for light. He sits alone just drawing and listening to an antiquated CD Walkman. His low key performance fits perfectly with the tone of the film. He has no apparent friends, until he meets Carmen, played by Elarica Gallacher. Gallagher, just like Clem Tibber, delivers a very impressive, grounded performance. Unlike the Tommy character though, Carmen is confident and very street smart. The scene where she chases off the thugs, by wielding a big stick like her life depends on it, shows her to be a true survivor.
The final member of the trio of main cast members is Shaun Dingwall, who plays Tommy’s Dad, Mark. The massively experienced Dingwall (fans of Only Fools And Horses might recognize him as “Reg Trotter”, from the spin off Rock And Chips) complements his younger cast members perfectly. His portrayal of this useless father, who thinks breaking in and squatting in a dilapidated flat with no water and heating is a good way of bringing his son up, really is thought provoking. As a parent myself, I was able to put myself in his shoes and question what I could have done differently.
First time director Oliver Frampton (who also co-wrote the film), really shows what he is made of with this film. Although the premise is a simple one, he manages to tell the story perfectly. This isn’t a balls to the wall scare fest loaded with cheap false jump scares. This is a slow burning story that develops its story gradually, over time. In my opinion, Frampton gets the pacing just right. This is bolstered by a haunting score, and some very impressive hand held camera work. And a special mention must go to whoever scouted the location the film is set in, as this alone is enough to get your mind working overtime.
To sum up, The Forgotten wont be to everyone’s taste, especially fans of the modern horror films that insist on cramming as many jump scares into its running time as is possible. To reiterate, this is a slow burning, atmospheric spine tingler. Although its quite low on actual scares, its character driven narrative rewards those that have the patience to stick with it and the fine character acting and cracking story more than makes up for the lack of action. On this showing, there is a very bright future for director Oliver Frampton.