Before we go any further, I thought it best to warn people that I am going to spoil this film. As in I’m going to give away the big reveal at the end, but you’re not missing much so it probably doesn’t matter.
Now, I think most of us can agree that Julianne Moore is a reasonably inoffensive actress; some may even like her. As such, I had no qualms about slinging on The Forgotten and, ya know what, I was actually quite enjoying the film for a while.
Plot thus: Telly (Julianne Moore) believes her son in a plane crash, although her husband says that they never had a son and that she imagining the whole thing. On the verge of being towed away by men in white coats, she does a runner and meets Ash (Dominic West) whose daughter he also believes was killed in that same crash.
See, that sounds pretty cool and it has this whole government conspiracy thing going on. What really happened with the plane crash? Was there ever really a crash at all? Is Telly crazy? Not really the most original of plots but intriguing nonetheless. So we’re plodding along and it’s obvious we’re going to get some big reveal or twist. Just what have the government been up to and did her son ever really exist? We’re about to find out and….
Yep, it was all aliens. At no point have we been aware that this was even possible, but it was aliens abducting people and erasing memories and stuff like that; I can’t even remember that much anymore. It was a pretty effective twist in that I didn’t see it coming at all, but it was so ridiculous that I think I sat open mouthed for the rest of the film in utter shock that someone could write something so lazy.
You could do that to end pretty much any film if you’re struggling to work out how to end it. The Usual Suspects? He was an alien all along. Citizen Kane? Rosebud was an alien. Fight Club? Aliens. It just felt like such a cop out. I had a similar reaction to Knowing but that had Nicolas Cage in it, so I could forgive it a little more.
I also read (thanks Wikipedia) that when the film aired on cable they changed all plane crash references to that of a bus crash. Why? Worried about upsetting people? What about people killed in bus crashes? Again, utterly ridiculous.
So, if there’s any budding scriptwriters out there wondering how to end their film, simply follow The Forgotten’s formula – just say it was aliens. Easy.