Dir: Oliver Frampton. UK. 2014. 90mins
An essay in the persistent social realist strain of low-budget British horror, following such council estate hauntings as Urban Ghost Story, The Disappeared and Wishbaby, The Forgotten is a little too mild to scare up crossover audiences – though it’s nicely acted, has a feel for its grim location and gets round to being suspenseful (and making sense) in its climax.
The haunted, empty flat – with its red walls and deep shadows – is an impressive locale, but the ghost story element is a little too ordinary to leave a lasting impression.
Fourteen-year-old Tommy (Clem Tibber) and his troubled father Mark (Shaun Dingwall) squat in a flat on a mostly-abandoned, due-for-demolition London estate while Tommy’s mother (Lyndsey Marshal) is mysteriously absent. Introverted and given to sketching, Tommy is picked on by local louts, who are seen off by slightly older, more streetwise mixed-race waitress Carmen (Elarica Gallacher).
Tommy and Carmen start hanging about together, and he confides that he senses a presence in the empty, sealed flat next to the squat. When Mark is in hospital after taking a beating from a pimp in punishment for an ill-defined wrong, Carmen stays with Tommy and becomes convinced he’s on to something.
They investigate the history of the place, which unearths an old tragedy which connects Carmen and Tommy’s past and present situations. Martin (James Doherty), Carmen’s affable and tolerant foster father, suddenly becomes heavy-handed — issuing awful warnings and trying to get her not to take the investigation further or have anything to do with Tommy’s family. In the climax, a bad father – a combination of two characters – menaces the children.
The film holds the interest mostly because Tibber and Gallacher – both likely to be cast in other projects after their showing here — are natural and engaging, avoiding troubled kid stereotypes but credibly haunted and cowed by their situation. Grown-ups Dingwall, Marshal and Doherty do well with limited screen time, and given that the script by James Hall and director Oliver Frampton sets out to depict all adults as incipient menaces blind to realities apparent to the young leads.
The haunted, empty flat – with its red walls and deep shadows – is an impressive locale, but the ghost story element is a little too ordinary to leave a lasting impression. Typical of its seeming desire to blend in with the pack is the use of a bland title that has been used many times before, including films from 2004 and 2009 which get listed before this in the IMDb search engine. The title’s meaning only becomes apparent after the very last line of the picture, which admittedly has a poignant chill. The film had its world premiere at London’s FrightFest.
Production company: Stickyback Pictures
Producer: Jennifer Handorf
Screenplay: Oliver Frampton, James Hall
Cinematography: Eben Bolter
Editor: Thomas Perrett
Production designer: Chloe James, Caitlin Thompson
Main cast: Clem Tibber, Shaun Dingwall, Elarica Gallacher, James Doherty, Lyndsey Marshal, Elarica Gallacher