Welcome to The Twilight Zone. Oh, wait. Welcome to “The
Forgotten,” an out-there, paranoid thriller that attempts to
be effective within the conventions of both sci-fi and dramatic
genres, without much success.

Eston Bond
Tyson vs. Holyfield.

This is the type of film that builds and builds to a climax that
is much less shocking than its filmmakers had hoped for.
Comparisons to “The X-Files” are inevitable, though
fundamental differences separate the two. There’s the
obvious: the semi-sexual attraction between the male and female
leads, who are trying to solve a paranormal mystery. But while
“The X-Files” had a cheeky sense of humor along with
its outrageous plot lines, “The Forgotten” instead
offers an onerously solemn tone, which quickly becomes tedious.
“The Forgotten” isn’t a total misfire, but its
rampant waste of potential makes it a considerable
disappointment.

Julianne Moore, who is among the best actresses at work today,
is the epitome of this misuse of talent. She has superbly played
such diverse roles as a repressed lesbian housewife, a porn darling
with a cocaine habit and an FBI agent with an infamous
cannibalistic admirer. Her performance in “The
Forgotten” is admirable as well, though the silly material
limits her effectiveness. She plays Telly, a woman who has recently
lost a son, and spends her days flipping through dusty photo
albums, slipping further and further into depression. By making
Telly someone that the audience genuinely cares about, Moore
manages to salvage the film from the prospect of boredom, which is
no small feat. The other players include Anthony Edwards
(TV’s “ER”) as Telly’s everyman husband,
Gary Sinise (“Apollo 13”) as a therapist whose initial
banality should be the first hint that he knows more than he lets
on and Alfre Woodard (“The Core”) as a detective who
seems to specialize more in one-liners than solving crimes. Their
collective performances are solid, though as their predicaments
become increasingly absurd, their effectiveness wanes.

Director Joseph Ruben, a veteran of thrillers both good
(“Return to Paradise”) and bad (“The Good
Son”), arrives at a disappointing middle ground, where the
film hangs in an unfavorable balance between moderate success and
outright failure. Granted, the screenplay goes from one labored
contrivance to the next, is not exactly a lot to work with. Still,
more artful presentation could have brought at least a little more
life into the film. Ruben’s biggest offense is the shaky
camera technique, which involves a lot of jumbled shots with the
hope of creating a disorienting atmosphere. The technique works for
some films (namely, “The Blair Witch Project”), but
here it is more dizzying than disorienting and by the climax, it
makes the film tiresome and drawn out.

The final suspense sequence takes place in a large, dark, empty
warehouse with windows that allow just enough light to come in to
create a neat visual effect as the frazzled heroine frantically
runs around the abandoned building. There is the obligatory scene
in which the villain launches into a long explanation of the
motivations for what he has done. What follows is a finale that
sidesteps everything that came before it for the sake of artificial
closure. It answers little, especially the how’s and
why’s of its premise. This is not to criticize these
questions themselves — they carry “The Forgotten”
to its climax. The curious lack of answers is another story.

 

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *