Casting its south-of-the-border setting as a dingy, nightmarish hellhole of hookers and red neon lights, Not Forgotten is a feature-length anti-tourism campaign for Mexico. Dror Soref’s lurid child-abduction thriller begins like a second-rate Taken, with blond 11-year-old Toby (Chloe Moretz) being snatched from soccer practice in her Texas town to the horror of coach/dad Jack (Simon Baker) and stepmom Amaya (Paz Vega). Thanks to a fragmented intro flashback and Toby’s earlier wayward stroll to a house of devil worship, director Soref makes plain that he’s after more than simply a standard revenge thriller. Only later, however, does it become clear that the particulars of prime importance are chicken beheadings, black magic practitioners in Eyes Wide Shut masks, and an ungodly amount of slow motion and spooky devices (whistling tea kettle, milky blind eyes, crucifixes, a virtual rogue’s gallery of deformed Mexican faces). À la A History of Violence, it turns out Jack has an unsavory past which he’s attempted to conceal behind a cheery suburban middle-class façade. And, it seems, his daughter may have been grabbed for use in rituals of a (supposedly real) pagan faith known as “La Santa Muerte,” which is a favorite of those seeking vengeance. What follows are numerous trips across national lines to Mexican locales defined by their darkness, filthiness, and whores, with Baker appearing downright somnambulistic save for those moments when his character goes intensely crazy, and Vega asked only to be alluring and, via an early sex scene (and in concert with Soref’s obvious editing), telegraph the finale. Fortunately, however, foreseeing the climactic surprise isn’t a drag given that there’s no verve to any of this satanic ludicrousness, which plods along at a sluggish clip that allows for much consideration of the embarrassing degree to which Not Forgotten‘s crass pulp-exploitation tale proves offensive.
- Skyline Pictures
- 96 min
- Dror Soref
- Tomás Romero, Dror Soref
- Simon Baker, Paz Vega, Chloe Moretz, Michael DeLorenzo, Daniel Escobar
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