Oliver Frampton’s excellent debut The Forgotten hit the discovery screen at FrightFest back in 2014 and we’ve been eagerly waiting for it to get a proper release ever since. An atmospheric and melancholy ghost story set on a London estate, it’s an indie chiller that is most definitely worth hunting down.
Lonely teenager Tommy (Clem Tibber) goes to live with his dad Mark (Shaun Dingwall), who’s currently living on a mostly abandoned estate and making a living clearing out the empty flats.
The two struggle to find a connection, and Tommy is put on edge by strange noises in the night. Together with his neighbour Carmen (Elarica Johnson), he begins to investigate the history of the flat next door…
We’re not short on jump scare ghost stories at the moment (really, are we ever?) and it’s great to see a ghost story with such a pervasive air of sadness. Beautifully shot and scored by Eben Bolter and Paul Frith, the film is as reminiscent of Japanese films like Dark Water as much as haunted council flat horrors like Candyman. Frampton and his co-writer James Hall take the time to establish Tommy’s isolation and fragility before introducing the supernatural element.
It’s a film in which the parents are almost ghosts themselves, as Mark’s unpredictability and volatile temper and Carmen’s father’s inability to get past the loss of his wife. One of the most affecting sequences involves a superb performance from Lyndsey Marshal (Being Human) as Tommy’s mother, a potential key to solving the mystery who is tragically incapable of helping her son.
Tibber and Johnson both give strong, rounded performances, finding their characters’ hidden strength and sadness respectively, and Dingwall (Hush, Doctor Who) keeps Mark from becoming just another imposing father with his awkward attempts at bonding. Very little here feels like a stereotype, there’s a real sensitivity and authenticity to the film.
As Tommy and Carmen move closer towards the truth, The Forgotten becomes genuinely frightening. It’s spooky and chilling without resorting to anything that feels cheap. These scares come from mood, character and setting, and it’s all part of the film’s superb atmosphere. This may have taken its time coming out but it’s worth the wait and we can’t wait to see what Frampton does next.