Life is strange and inexplicable for Paul, a priest whose shaken faith offers him little comfort, his wife terminally ill, her brain tumour metastasising. Her doctor advising that treatment be discontinued as it is only prolonging the end, he is faced with Elizabeth’s death and the prospect of raising their daughter, Kensie, alone, but his experiences as an exorcist suggest to him a radical and unethical alternative.
Familiar with possession and the effect it has on the host, Paul (David E Cazares) chooses to try and summon a lost soul in the hope that its presence will cause Elizabeth’s body to heal. “We call them the forsaken, souls that have not yet crossed to the infinite life, looking for a vessel, a path back.”
But a door once opened can be harder to close, and when Paul takes Elizabeth (Michele Soza) to the country for her to recover in isolation, strange events continue to plague both them at the ranch and Kensie and her friends back in the city, moving objects, spooked animals, doors swinging open, physical manifestations…
Opening in the middle of the story is not a problem if we come to know the characters as we move along; with the disjointed script and haphazard direction of Justin Price, it’s more of a forlorn hope to even stay awake to the end of Forsaken. Told out of sequence with no clue as to how the events are supposed to fit together on a slim budget which apparently did not allow for second takes, it resembles nothing so much as a late-night television filler.
This is not to say the central idea is not without potential but the central dilemma of the morality of Paul’s action is swept aside by stock horror situations poorly served by the amateur execution and the strongest moments are the brief scenes where Paul and his mentor Father Townsend (Tony Gomez) effectively re-enact The Exorcist although with none of the background, the build-up, the characters, the performances, the nuance, the depth or the production values of that film, but deploying that only thirty means minutes in leaves the film floundering for the next hour with nowhere to go.
With his appalling diction and unphotogenic face, Cazares is astonishingly the most experienced performer having played a demon for Price on his previous horror release The Cloth, a dubious accolade at best, his lifeless performance here offering mild consternation rather than the more appropriate anguish or desperation of a man who has brought demons into his home, and with the majority of the rest of the cast having no other listed credits their performances are accordingly haphazard, ranging from tolerable to “don’t give up the day job.”
There are moments where Price overcomes the limitations of the production and his own lack of creative ambition, the opening scene of a chanting priest in a darkened dungeon, Elizabeth slicing and cooking pieces of herself, the tumour blocking her from feeling the pain, the contortionist who plays Father Townsend’s daughter Samantha in the flashback to her exorcism, but they are woefully insufficient.
Undermined by the meandering plot which never comes into focus, instead featuring pointless scenes of Ouija boards and Kensie (Nissa Nightmare) wandering around in a towel while fretting over whether or not to answer her cellphone, the preposterous sight of Elizabeth cancer-ridden and possessed and strapped to a bed with leather restraints at the ranch, to say nothing of a priest owning a ranch in the first place, Forsaken squanders any potential and gets progressively and painfully worse as it limps along begging to be put to rest.