Falls The Shadow, The Forgotten (2011)
Directed by: Steven Berryessa
Written by: Steven Berryessa
Starring: Annie Thurman, David Eby, Jesse Warrick, Luke Hatmaker, Nomalanga Eniafe, Olivia Bishop, Phil Perry, Ron Berryessa, Wynn Reichert
THE FORGOTTEN (2011)
aka FALLS THE SHADOW
Written and directed by Steven Berryessa
After the world is pretty much destroyed and the walking dead roam the earth, a soldier named Michael returns home to find his beloved wife has been murdered and his daughter snatched by a neo-Confederate group run by Reverend Josiah Phelps – a man who’s determined to repopulate the southern states of America with white Americans, killing any other ethnicities who they come across. Michael and his father-in-law Frank seek revenge for their fallen wife/daughter and to rescue Cora, Michael’s daughter from the Reverand’s evil clutches.
THE FORGOTTEN, also known Stateside as ‘Falls The Shadow’, is a post-apocalyptic movie that focuses on the lives of individuals struggling to survive in a desolate place. If the insatiable appetite of the undead isn’t enough to contend with, survivors have to protect themselves from the likes of Reverend Phelps and his cronies, who’ve taken it upon themselves to ‘cleanse’ the Earth, despite they themselves being the most corrupt, disgusting creatures of the planet. By stealing Michael’s young daughter, they plan to keep her locked up until she is of the age to conceive but one of Reverend’s men is keen to sample the young girl’s delights sooner rather than later.
Also making his way through the wasteland is Noah, who’s infiltrated Reverand’s base camp once for supplies and is heading in the opposite direction to get away from any sort of conflict. Along his journey, he rescues an African-American mother and son from the undead, but unfortunately her son Orlando has been bitten. Noah also bumps into a young woman named Elina, who too is struggling to survive on her own, so the pair decide to join forces and eventually cross paths with Michael and Frank.
Despite the infected being an evident danger in the film, THE FORGOTTEN isn’t a zombie movie. In most cases, the infected make three or four appearances, with the evil of the story very much the Neo-Confederate group. The characters are split into two halves: the good and the bad. It’s clear who is who, with members of the Reverend’s cult adorned in swastikas, confederate flag armbands and usually wearing something along the lines of a gasmask or sack on their head. Those members who cover their head in some form of mask appear to be the Reverend’s head henchmen, with the gasmask guy looking very much like the Pyscho character from Borderlands video game.
As the debut feature film from Steven Berryessa, THE FORGOTTEN is quite a promising start to a film career. It’s by no means perfect or faultless, but it manages to hold the viewer’s attention until the payoff of good vs evil collides. In many ways, the film is similar to that of 28 Days Later and the like, but with less action scenes. With a script that plays off relationships and emotions, subtlety works well over action in this instance. This is particular emphasised with the parent/offspring relationship threads with Michael and Cora, and Kina and Orlando. A scene in the woods with a priest also sets the tone of what the survivors are facing, for it’s not the threat of the undead they need to be concerned about, but the threat of the corrupt living.
There’s a few standout performances within the film against a reasonable cast. Ron Berryessa plays a terrific role as father-in-law to the moody but skilled soldier Michael (David Eby), whilst Nomalanga Eniafe and Jesse Warrick’s relationship as mother and son is a joy to watch. Phil Perry oozes menace as the stetson wearing Reverand Phelps, who’s ruthless attitude makes him a prime villain we love to hate. Wynn Reichert makes an appearance as Tinker Barnes, a travelling salesman selling toilet rolls, maps and the sexual services of the men and women towing his mobile cart. Though his appearance is only brief, it’s one of the films most memorable, with Tinker Barnes quite the character.
The wobbly handheld camera style is not something I enjoy, but THE FORGOTTEN manages to get away with it without making the viewer feel nauseous. A simple storyline, with characters the viewer can get behind and others they can hate, works well for this style of film, which can be slow moving at times. The strength of some of the actors and the bleak locations in which the film was shot make this a preferred choice over some other post-apocalyptic films of late.