Forgiveness Movie Review
Written by Becky Roberts
Released by Black Mandala
Written and directed by Alex Kahuam
2021, 90 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Frightfest World Premiere on 29th August 2021
Jessica Ortiz as Magnea
Alejandra Toussaint as Camila
Alejandra Zaid as Aisha
Horatio Castelo as The Boss
Laura de Ita as The Nurse
Diano Quijano as Old Woman
Alberto Trujillo as Man With Glasses
Would you rather wake up blind, deaf or mute? OK so that's not the most risqué or exotic rounds of 'Would You Rather', but it's one you can't help but entertain in your mind whilst watching Forgiveness. In Alex Kahuam's Mexploitation revenge horror, three women awake alone in a hospital, each mysteriously robbed of one of their senses, with no choice but to defenselessly endure torture as they try to discover how they got there and, most importantly, how to get out.
For the helpless victims, and their equally helpless audience, Kahuam has gone all in – and we really do mean all in – to create a perverse and stark-mad Funhouse within his hospital setting. It’s one that spans cannibalism, infection, body horror, devil worship and the supernatural, where you don't know what you'll find behind each door, around each corner or at the top of each staircase. But this isn’t a The FunHouse or Hell Fest level of Funhouse amusement; this is cruel, brutal and bleak, with the girls suffering being tied up, tortured, and mentally and physically toyed with for the pleasure of the sinister organisation behind it.
Kahuam's imaginative vision and ambitious presentation are consistently surreal and trippy, as much an assault on the viewers' senses as they are on the characters’. Climactic, pacey scenes that bask in Argento-inspired red glow and are scored by scintillating synths that bubble below are frequently broken with spells of seemingly unnerving calm, soundtracked by silence or music that wouldn't be out of place in a spa – before moving to moments of utter madness once more. That unrelenting dynamism makes for an effectively suffocating experience from start to finish, with each sequence as nightmarish as the next. Being largely dialogue-less, Forgiveness lives and breathes on atmosphere.
Style does triumph over substance for the most part; at times, the hellish imagery is overly indulgent and at the expense of narrative progression, at best building an intrigue that's not quite satisfied by the concluding revelation. Peaking with some gorgeously bizarre scenes that linger long in the mind after the credits roll, Forgiveness is memorably twisted and ironically unforgiving – even if, ultimately, it doesn't succeed in being much more than that.
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