Movie Review: Forget Me Not
(Rated R for violence/terror, teen drug and alcohol use, sexual content and language)
Most people know that when it comes to horror or slasher films, I’m not a big fan. I wasn’t indoctrinated into them at an early age like a few of my cousins, and I didn’t go crazy for Scream (or its myriad copycats) in the late 90’s.
However, much like how I’d find “strange films” playing on The USA Network in my teens that intrigued me, Netflix has done the same for me in recent years. I’ve found myself exploring some of these films, and while none have made me a horror fan (they never give me enough people to care about), some have caught my eye with their intriguing premises.
Case in point: the 2009 film, Forget Me Not.
The film centers around a group of 8 teenagers, who have just graduated from high school. While the majority of them are your typical ‘teen-slasher cannon fodder,’ The slight exceptions to the rule, are siblings Sandy Channing (Carly Schroeder), and her brother Eli (Cody Linley). With both headed to Stanford, their future looks bright, so it’s time to do what most teenagers do in these films: celebrate by going to a friend’s place, with scantily-clad girls, booze, drugs, and lots of fooling around.
However, after over-indulging a bit, one of the group gets the crazy idea, to play an old game at a cemetery in town. The group is soon surprised when an unknown girl shows up there as well, wanting to play their game. The others dismiss her request, but Sandy takes pity on her, and lets her play. Before they start, the group recites a chant:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, release the one ignored by heaven…
8, 9, 10, Now run and hide, or join her at the devil’s side…
11 comes, the clocks will chime, forgotten souls erased by time…
Midnight comes, it’s not too late, so kill the ghost, or seal your fate!
The game has one person as ‘the ghost,’ and the others rush off into the cemetery. The ghost has to find the others, and if the ghost touches you, you become one too, and are sent to hunt the others down. The one left who is still ‘alive,’ is the winner.
In the end, The unknown girl is untouched, and Sandy congratulates her on winning. However, the girl then asks Sandy if she remembers her, her face taking on a pleading look.
When Sandy doesn’t respond with an answer, the unknown girl quietly says, “you will,” and falls backwards…over the side of the cliff on which the cemetery is (!!?). Sandy and her friends then call for the Police, but the search in the wooded area below, turns up nothing.
The others decide to hang out the next day, but when they all decide to meet up, Sandy notices their friend Layla (Chloe Bridges) isn’t there. When she asks her friends where she could be, they can’t recall ever knowing anyone named Layla.
…and so, it begins…
Most movies with teenagers, would have me already rooting for this group to be offed quickly, but that cemetery scene seemed to put my eye-rolling on hold, even if I did question why no one would put up warning signs or railings near the edge of a cliff.
Tyler Oliver’s feature-film debut is definitely trying to change up what we expect with teenage horror films. The best I could say about the film, is that it combines elements of teen-horror, with The Twilight Zone. In fact, there’s a certain episode in the Twilight Zone’s first season that is eerily similar to some of what goes on in this film, but that’s all I’ll say.
The structure of the story also reminded me of several Asian horror films I’d seen. The concept seemed like it could have easily been adapted from something in Japan, given that the horror elements almost seem more mental than physical at times…and in Asia, they love to play those mind games (I’m still not sure what was going on in their controversial film, The Suicide Club).
Also of interest, is that Oliver layers the film in a way, that it actually invites you to watch it again, and pick up on little things here and there.
Once the ball starts rolling, I found myself as quizzical as Sandy was in what was going on, but as the film started wrapping itself up in its third act, that’s where (like most films) it started to fall apart. Maybe it was the limits of the film’s budget, or they ran out of time in developing a proper ending.
The adults in this film are largely kept out of the main story, and provide very little by way of support. In a sense, this almost goes back to those 80’s films in which the kids were largely on their own.
The main teen cast (who are largely early-20’s actors playing younger) doesn’t do a terrible job, but pretty soon, you almost get a sense on who is more easily expendable, regarding their dialogue and personalities.
There are some odd character moments as well. One revolves around one girl named Lex (Jillian Murphy), whose father (Dan Gauthier) is the town Sheriff. Though in bucking typical trends, Lex is fine slinking around in front of her father, making him one of the most lax parents I’ve ever seen in one of these films. I didn’t know there could be father-figures who’d have no problems with their daughter being slutty, let-alone letting their boyfriends drink beer around him.
When it comes to the horror mode of things in this film, the concepts start out intriguing, but once we start seeing more, the less scary it becomes. We do get the typical skittering/herky-jerky motion we’ve come to see in a lot of films these days. It works well a few times, but after awhile, it may become tiresome.
In the end, Tyler Oliver’s directorial debut is intriguing enough, that I’d recommend giving it a look. It’s entrancing in how it gives a new slant to the teen-horror genre, but if you start thinking a little too hard, the holes become more prominent. It’s a strange film in that way: it wants you to use your brain…but not too much.
Some may be upset that it isn’t super-scary, and just seems to titillate with some scenes. Then again, that could have been Oliver’s film ultimatum: lure you in with what you think you know, then redirect you down a different path.
At the very least, it beats the tired formulas in teen horror films that date back to the heyday of writer, Kevin Williamson.
Final Grade: C+