Sunday, March 26, 2017

Forgotten Evil (The Asylum/Lifetime, 2017)

by Mark Gabrish Conlan • Copyright © 2017 by Mark Gabrish Conlan • All rights reserved

One thing Lifetime is doing lately is not only showing two “premiere” movies back to back on Saturday nights but picking films so similar in theme and plot premises they tend to reflect badly on each other. They did that again last night by running something called Forgotten Evil which, as you might guess just from the title, is an amnesia movie: a young woman (Masiela Lusha) is found wrapped in some sort of bag and nearly drowned. She’s taken to the local hospital and gets to stay there for six months as the people looking after her try to determine who she is and how she got there. When she’s finally asked to leave, Mariah (Angie Teodora Dick), one of the nurses taking care of her, offers to take her in as a roommate and helps her get a job as a file clerk and receptionist at a local school. Mariah also suggests that the amnesiac woman, whom at first she calls “Jane” as in “Jane Doe,” go see therapist Dr. Evan Michaels (Jeff Marchelletta) in hopes that he can work with her, hypnotize her and help her regain her memories. “Jane” decides to adopt the name “Renée” after she sees it in a booklet of women’s names (probably something along the lines of What to Name Your Baby Girl, the tome I suspected the organizers of the “Rachel, from Cardholder Services” Internet phishing scam used to run through other women’s names once “Rachel” was publicly exposed as a scam — usually it was “Heather, from Cardholder Services” but I’ve heard “Carmen” and other names) and she gets to see the hot Dr. Michaels at his home, which is also the site of his office.

Renée also finds herself with a hot new boyfriend, Randy Dumas (Kyle McKeever), a nice-looking blond, though given the usual iconography of Lifetime that their best-looking males turn out to be their creepiest, we’re wondering whether Randy is all he seems to be and if he might be one of the people Renée is convinced are part of a conspiracy to keep her from regaining her memory even if that means they have to kill her in the process. Meanwhile we occasionally see a hulking black-clad man in the shadows — he’s heavy-set and is dressed all in black, including a black hoodie — and he seems to turn up everywhere Renée does, though for about two-thirds of this movie it’s not clear whether he’s supposed to be real or a figment of her imagination. He’s real, all right, and no sooner do Renée and Mariah have a falling-out, Renée announces she’s moving in with Randy, and Mariah warns Renée that she really knows very little about Randy and shouldn’t be so trusting of him, than we get a glimpse of the heavy-set man in the black clothes and hoodie, the hood comes off and we realize it’s Randy. Apparently his real name is Jack, Renée’s is Veronica, and the two were married until five years previously, whenfor reasons writer-director-editor (so he really has no one to blame but himself!) Anthony C. Ferrante never bothers to explain, Jack decided to kill Veronica and got as far as putting her in a bag and dumping her off his boat — only a local found her before she could croak and saved her in a scene that seemed awfully reminiscent of The Bourne Identity when it began the film. As with your typical Lifetime villain, Randy once again spirals out of control from understandable garden-variety madness to out-and-out craziness, including getting her fired from the school job by sending them photos of her bound and gagged in S/M style (apparently when they were together one of his ways of making money was shooting and selling such pics of her) and later getting into a gunfight with Veronica’s brother Jensen (Adrian Bustamante) and killing him.

The climax takes place aboard a boat called the Renée (which is how we know how Veronica nèe “Jane Doe” took that as her new name) in which Randy, like Bruce in Stalker’s Prey, wants to knock her off by throwing her in the water — only, of course, she takes him out instead. Forgotten Evil, which may have been intended for theatrical release (partly because of the expert Gothic finish director Ferrante gave the material and partly because there are some odd blips on the soundtrack — one woman gets to say “ass-” but not “asshole”), seems like just another Lifetime movie with amnesia as their “disease of the week” and a cop-out ending that really doesn’t make sense. Why is Randy so determined to kill Renée? Why didn’t he just leave her for dead and be done with her? Why is it so important to him that he knock off anyone who might potentially expose Renée’s name and past? Ferrante doesn’t explain any of this, and while as a director he’s got a great eye for Gothic night scenes, as a writer he’s got a lot of work to do to get good enough even to give us a coherent Lifetime movie, let alone anything feature-film worthy. It doesn’t help that the acting in this one is pretty nondescript — yes, I know the characters themselves are pretty nondescript, and Masiela Lusha has the confounding task of portraying a woman who literally doesn’t know anything about who or what she is, but the only player who comes across as genuinely interesting and charismatic is Kyle McKeever as the villain.