Forget Me Not (2009): Forget Me Not Likely

Directed by Tyler Oliver (who also co-wrote the film with Jamieson Stern), Forget Me Not was pretty much slaughtered by the critics. It also appears to have been overlooked by the public as well.

So okay we’ve seen the formula before. A lot of World Cinema films use the ‘I did something bad to someone when I was a child and I didn’t remember doing it until I saw their ghost and now I need to set things right’ plot.

The Orphanage and The Shock Labyrinth 3D are just two foreign films that feature that plot device. I could go on and list more, but what would be the point? So Forget Me Not covers old ground. So what? It happens all the time and sometimes when new folks use a plot device that’s been used before, they can put their own slant to it.

The film opens with a young girl running through a cemetery. Her face has been painted to resemble a skull and she is screaming. She runs home and when her parents ask her what happened she says, “I don’t remember.”

The film then shoots forward enough years that the screaming girl is now graduating from High School. Her name is Sandy Channing and she and her brother Eli have both been accepted to Stanford University. They then join their friends for a graduation celebration and they all wind up in the local cemetery playing a ghost game of tag.

While they are breaking up into teams, another girl shows up and asks if she can join them. Sandy says yes and the group begin to play the game. The games rules seem to be that when you catch someone they have to then help you find the other participants. This continues until there is only on participant left and they get chased by all the others in the game.

Sandy spots the ‘new’ girl and gives chase. The new girl runs to the edge of a cliff and she stops to tell Sandy that she will remember her. Then she rolls her eyes up into her head and falls backward off the cliff.

Sandy is shaken by this and calls the police to search the ground where the new gal must have landed and they find nothing.

Then Sandy’s friend start disappearing. Well, in actual fact they are dying horrible deaths at the hands of the ‘new’ girl who rolls her eyes up into her head each and every time she kills someone. After one of Sandy’s group dies, the rest of her friends don’t remember the victim. It is as though, in the act of dying, they never existed.

Nice touch.

Now admittedly the eye rolling thing got a little comical the more it happened. Fortunately, every time a new ‘ghost’ joined the ranks, the eye rolling got less distracting. Where the film really worked for me was the ghosts or spectres.

These things were scary. A lot of CGI was used and it made the apparitions freaky and unnerving. They used a lot of face morphing and the spectres moved incredibly fast, making a sort of insect like noise. They also ‘twitched’ rapidly and combined that insect chittering noise they were very unsettling. As their numbers increased and they began to run down the remaining members of Sandy’s friends, they got scarier.

Forget Me Not is another of those films that looks great but doesn’t know what it wants to be. For all intents and purposes it’s a slasher film trying to be a psychological horror. I’d even go so far as to say the it doesn’t really fit the slasher genre either. Despite using the ‘morality’ tale formula, it just doesn’t work.

The other thing that bothered me was the lead actor Carly Schroeder. Her portrayal of teenager Sandy Channing was okay, but she didn’t look like a teenager to me.

But the one thing that didn’t help the film at all was the fact that apart from Sandy’s brother Eli (Cody Linley) I didn’t care if any of the group lived or died. This group of friends, Sandy included, just weren’t very nice. Critics have said that the only thing they liked about the film was it’s accurate depiction of teenagers.

What?

Sorry all you critics out there who believe that. I honestly don’t think today’s teens are that shallow, vacuous or uncaring.

When her friends disappear one by one, I felt no sense of loss and I honestly couldn’t see why Sandy did.

Still despite the not so glowing picture I’ve painted of the film, I still liked it. It was entertaining enough and the CGI ghost ‘morphing’ was suitable scary and creepy. Just the ‘morphing’ alone helps to make this otherwise mediocre film unforgettable.

Popcorn score:

This film is a one bagger for sure. There were only a couple of scenes that made me jump a little and the action was not so compelling or engrossing that I constantly stuffed popcorn in mouth.

One bagger.

Creep (2004): The London Underground Just Got Worse

Written and directed by Christopher Smith this was Smith’s first full length  feature film. He went on to make Severance (2006), the vastly superior Triangle (2009) and Black Death (2010) and he is currently directing a TV mini-series Labyrinth (2012). Starring Franka Potente –  Run Lola Run ,  The Bourne Identity . Given that the premise of the film, getting locked in the London Underground after hours, is not actually possible; it’s a good film nonetheless.

The film opened to a pretty lukewarm reception. The reviews were mostly mixed with  a tendency for most of them to be negative. Considering that the film actually accomplishes what it set out to do, scare the crap out of the audience, I feel that the poor reception was unwarranted. Franka Potente really sells the film. Her portrayal as the protagonist of the film is just what you would expect from this accomplished actress. I don’t know how Smith managed to get her for his film, but hat’s off to him for casting her.

The Readers Digest version of the plot is as follows: Girl sets out to meet George Clooney. She gets a bit wasted at the party she’s attending and winds up falling asleep on the Underground while on her way to meet George. A lecherous workmate tries to rape her. He is gorily dispatched by some unseen person. Girl spends most of the film trying to get out of the Underground, getting captured by the maniac killer and then trying to  not get killed by same. She escapes with the help of an underground maintenance worker. He is then killed while trying to defend the girl. She is the last [wo]man standing and defeats the killer. The subway opens up for the morning trade and she gets a hand out from a passer by who thinks she is a beggar.

I have of course left out the “backstory” of the maniac killer who haunts the underground. All said, it is a pretty good one. His name is Craig and he was kept in the underground in some sort of medical facility. He is Mentally Challenged. Somehow, even though the facility has closed, he has made his way back to the familiar surroundings. He now kills stragglers and other unfortunates in bizarre re-enactments of surgical procedures that he remembers from his past.

This is more than just your typical slasher film. Okay, you do have your villain or “boogey-man” who is damn near impossible to dispatch, but…It has a bit more going for it. Apart from the sexual predator workmate that attacks the girl (Kate) all the other character have been written well enough that we actually like them. As a consequence we actually care when they die. Most slasher films feature vapid miss-behaving teenagers who are so two dimensional they might as well be cardboard cut-outs. These teens also suffer lethal fates because they “break” the morality clause of their “Christian Contract,” you know, breaking certain basic Christian rules like:  pre-marital sex, smoking, drinking, drug taking, etc. Where a few of Craig’s victims are young, they are also not breaking the known rules. Although the two homeless people that Kate meets in the underground could fit that mould, but hey, they’re homeless, not some mindless vapid teen partying, drinking and trying to get laid.

The film does require you to suspend your disbelief, but if you cannot do that, then why are you watching a horror film?