Spotty 14-year-old Tommy (Clem Tibber) is reunited with his father Mark (Shaun Dingwall) after a spell of living with an aunty. Alas, his dad is a squatter - and has set his sights on a flat on an abandoned council estate as their latest home.

Breaking into the place, Mark and Tommy use handheld lanterns for light and settle in as best as they can. There's a mystery surrounding the whereabouts of Tommy's mother; Mark dismisses her absence from the scene by explaining, rather unconvincingly, that she's visiting a friend.

From the offset, Mark is painted as a less than honest person. He steals copper from the neighbouring flats to sell on. His "work" involves going out late at night with a crowbar in hand, and returning hours later with unexplained wads of cash. One evening he brings a prostitute home, much to Tommy's secret disgust; however, the hussy flees moments after entering Mark's bedroom. Whatever it is that he did to her, her pimps pay a visit a few nights later and beat Mark so severely that he's hospitalised.

All of which leaves Tommy alone in a dank, lonely flat. What's worse, he's continually woken up on a night by strange noises coming from the flat next door. The flat that Mark assured him is empty.

Having made a new friend in feisty local waitress Carmen (Elarica Johnson) a few days earlier when she saved him from bullies, Tommy enlists her help in breaking into the neighbouring flat and learning the truth behind the noises.

There's a lot more to THE FORGOTTEN than that. Well, in terms of plot, perhaps not an awful lot more. But what's interesting about Oliver Frampton and James Hall's screenplay is the unusual weight it gives towards investing in its characters. Yes, Mark's a cad but there are two sides shown to him - he struggles as a dad, but he does try. We can't despise him or write him off as a result. Tommy is a confused, lonely kid - sensitive, aloof, vulnerable, shrewd. Carmen isn't just the wise-talking, street-savvy black girl: she has a soft side which Tommy's gentle demeanour soon taps into. Their relationship takes centre-stage during the film's middle act, and makes for what is probably the most satisfying moments of the film.

That's not to say the ghost story element doesn't work, because it does. Though long walks down darkened corridors, lantern in hand, are the stuff of cliché, the decayed interiors of the abandoned buildings give this environment a spin of authenticity which works supremely well. Frampton also directs, and does so with considerable skill: he doesn't rush events, allowing his ghost story to build incrementally while the viewer really gets to care for its young protagonists.

A few narrative twists in the final half keep the plot interesting, ensuring even those viewers bemoaning the fact that the film is either "too slow" or lacking in gore (there is none) will want to hang around to find out just what's going on, and how it ties in to the tragic story behind Tommy's home life. The denouement, when it comes, is as satisfying as it is bleak.

Beautifully shot, impressively edited and - barring a couple of unconvincing bullies in an early scene - very well acted, THE FORGOTTEN is one of the best modern examples of British ghost storytelling. Even if the mumblecore delivery of the otherwise excellent Tibber can be annoying.

Metrodome's UK DVD presents the film uncut with a running time of 89 minutes and 2 seconds. The 2.35:1 transfer is 16x9 enhanced and is excellent: clean, sharp and noise-free.

English audio comes in option of 2.0 and 5.1 mixes. Both are reliable if not entirely remarkable.

A static main menu page leads into a similarly static scene selection menu affording access to the film via 12 chapters.

There are no bonus features appertaining to THE FORGOTTEN. However, the disc opens with trailers for ONE AND TWO, MARK OF THE WITCH and HOWL.

THE FORGOTTEN is well worth a look, and gets a great presentation on Metrodome's DVD.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Metrodome
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review