The audience remained silent in anticipation as the music reached an unparalleled level of intensity and the camera zoomed in ever so carefully on the main character. They dared to peek at the screen between the wedges of their fingers covering their eyes, expecting to see the scariest scene yet. The silence was then broken. Not by screams, but by laughter.
“Unforgettable,” released on Friday, showed how director Denise Di Novi would produce a sense of thrill. It seemed all the websites had made a mistake when categorizing the genre of the movie: it is most definitely not a thriller.
Perhaps it was the cliché crescendo of the music or the character’s matter of fact expressions during the violent scenes, but “Unforgettable” can be more accurately classified as a parody.
Unlike such formulaic features of the movie, the original plot had promising potential. “Unforgettable” tells the story of Tessa Connover (Katherine Heigl), the possessive ex-wife of David Connover (Geoff Stults), and her determination to ruin her ex-husband’s new life with the beautiful and successful Julia Banks (Rosario Dawson).
The storyline is enhanced by Julia and Tessa’s interactions, creating at times an aggressive and forcibly cordial dynamic as both belong or belonged to David, respectively. Tessa’s two-faced nature and Julia’s bold disposition combine to form relatively effective tension the audience members can latch on to.
This successful portrayal of relationships within the movie is used to set up an excellent foundation for a creative horror film. Unfortunately, this foundation crumbled under the predictable suspense and unrealistic scenes that dominated this film.
Rather than allowing the audience to unveil the mystery, every scene that so much as hinted at Tessa’s hidden scheme was paired with a build-up of music that overtly notified the audience of the scene’s significance.
Directors who truly aim to engage the audience make movies that require viewers to think. Such directors impartially introduce characters, scenes and details that viewers must deem significant or insignificant. Di Novi wholly eliminates this opportunity to encourage audience members to actively think, predict and evaluate by limiting viewers to the role of mere mindless observers.
Fortunately, however, the excessively unrealistic depictions of stabbings and violence in this movie extended the description of observers as mindless and entertained. Violence, I’ll admit, is hard to portray convincingly in most horror films. However, Di Novi does not even attempt to incorporate the usage of knives, choking and fists in a realistic manner. There was no gradual increase in intensity, pain or physical bruises. Rather, it was abrupt and practically implausible.
One touch of Julia’s hands on Tessa’s face and there were four blood-filled marks engrained deep within the skin of Tessa’s face. One attempt at taking out a knife from Julia’s ex Miguel’s (Alex Quijano) leg and the knife slid out in a single smooth movement with absolutely no signs of pain from a man who was stabbed with a piercing weapon. One step into a curve-edged knife and the audience was inundated with the grotesque sounds of disintegrating guts, blood and flesh that only the most notorious serial killer with the sharpest knife could ever produce.
To make matters worse for the movie, or better for the sake of the audience’s entertainment, during such dramatic scenes the characters were plastered with nonchalant facial expressions. As a result, this staunch contrast between the markedly exaggerated actions and the indifferent appearances of the characters created began to form, providing yet another source of uncontrollable laughter for the audience.
Over the past 20 years, Di Novi has produced truly heartwarming movies such as “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and thought-provoking others such as “Focus.” Unfortunately, her serious effort in trying to broaden her art to the field of horror produced a truly miserable result.
With the superfluous drama and the unnecessarily frequent presence of eerie music, the only way this movie can qualify as a thriller is if it is recognized as a parody.
That being said, if you are in the mood to shut your brain off and laugh at a tragically entertaining failure of a horror movie, a ticket for “Unforgettable” may just be worth it for you.
For others, the hope will probably be to simply forget “Unforgettable.”