Without giving away too much, The Forgotten is about what happens when a mother who is grieving over her dead son suddenly discovers that all evidence of her son’s existence has disappeared—photos, newspaper reports, home videos, everything. At first, she suspects her husband and psychiatrist of perpetuating an elaborate hoax to help her overcome her grief. But when confronted, they tell her she never actually had a son, that her “memories” of him are a figment of her imagination. Unwilling to accept that she might be going crazy, she sets out on a wild, adrenaline-driven journey that eventually leads to an explanation far weirder than she could have ever imagined.
I would put this film into the same category as the recent sci-fi thriller Godsend. Take away the modern trappings, and both films could easily have served as episodes in the original Twilight Zone TV series. That would be a compliment were it still 1957. Unfortunately, the same plot devices that worked back then don’t really cut it today. Thus, even though both The Forgotten and Godsend still offer a lot of entertainment value, the films ultimately fail due to half-baked story development and endings that are so conventional you just wish the screenwriters had thought to give M. Night Shyamalan a call. That said; The Forgotten is definitely the superior of the two films. Not only are the premise and script more compelling, the overall look and feel of the film make it abundantly clear that director Joseph Ruben is ready to move on to bigger and better things.
The Forgotten effectively plays on a number of fears—fear of losing a child, fear of losing your mind, even fear of the government. But most of all, it plays on our fear that the ultimate power in the universe may not be good after all, that “God,” or whoever happens to be in charge, is merely toying with us in one grand, cosmic experiment. While the film does not offer any assurance that that isn’t the case, it does offer hope in the form of a familiar, four-letter word: L-O-V-E. And that is more than I can say about most episodes of The Twilight Zone.