Director: Oliver Frampton
Cast: Clem Tibber, Elarica Gallacher, Shaun Dingwall
Running Time: 89 minutes
There are always kids who accept their circumstances without so much as a thought about how they got there. It’s symptomatic of an age where a person isn’t quite sure what they need to control or what’s being controlled for them. Those who are not yet comfortable taking the reins often avoid questioning what they don’t really want to know, hoping a trustworthy figure in charge handles the difficult stuff at least a little while longer.
Co-writer/director Oliver Frampton, along with his writing partner James Hall, creates an entire supernatural thriller saturated with this cloudy lack of context.
Like its adolescent lead, THE FORGOTTEN is quietly observant, sympathetic, and a little sad. Frampton’s directorial debut follows 15-year-old Tommy (Clem Tibber), who has recently reunited with his dad. Frampton never gives you any more information than what Tommy has to work with, and the air of mystery this creates elevates both the film’s growing tension as well as our connection to the boy.
Why are they living in a condemned building? Where’s Tommy’s mother? What’s that noise coming from the next flat? Frampton and his game cast exploit the unknown and create suspicions in every shadowy corner.
Tibber, in a wonderfully restrained performance, feels like every lonely, awkward boy on earth. His tenderness and confusion only make him that much more heartbreaking. It doesn’t just work on the audience – the lovely waitress at the local diner (Elarica Gallacher) is moved to look out for him, as well.Shaun Dingwall, playing Tommy’s sketchy dad, does a marvelous job of skirting an easy label. Is he a good guy? A bad guy? Bit of both?
Aside from a satisfyingly cagey script, THE FORGOTTEN employs enough elements of an old-fashioned haunted house flick to offer a spooky experience. Frampton shows an aptitude for utilizing color, texture, light and shadow to create a forbidding atmosphere. His film combines elements of other recent indie gems that couched genre tales in environments of urban squalor. Like ATTACK THE BLOCK and CITADEL, the dangers of the neighborhood become exaggerated to monstrous levels, offering a kind of modern allegory.
For all the film has going for it, it loses something important in the final act. Frampton’s steering feels unsure, and his script doesn’t provide a resolution fitting to the hypnotic nightmare that led us this far. Still, he and his cast show a real knack for haunting storytelling.
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