Film: The Forgotten
The Forgotten is a 2004 Suspense/Thriller by Joseph Ruben. Told that her child, Sam, never existed, Telly Paretta finds physical evidence of Sam's existence and tries desperately to find someone to believe her, helped by Ash Correll, another parent who had apparently lost his daughter. As she unravels the mystery she discovers greater forces at work.
It exhibits the following tropes:
- Always a Bigger Fish: The agent who appears to be in charge of the operation. He's just a Mook.
- Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Ash.
- Cosmic Horror Story: What the film turns out to be. There are unnamed and unseen beings out there that have the power to abduct people and erase their existence from the world, including from people's memories. Telly and Ash are outright told that the truth is too fantastic for their brains to comprehend and the unseen beings can snatch people right up from where they're standing. The reason they're doing all this? It's an experiment.
- Determinator: Telly.
- Disposable Husband: Telly's husband is quickly brushed aside and has his memories of her erased.
- Eldritch Abomination: We never see the aliens behind the experiment but their powers are stated above and humans must go along with them because there's nothing they can do to stop them.
- Fiery Redhead: It's no coincidence that passionate and determined Telly is red haired.
- Gaslighting: A particularly weird and ambitious example.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: It's what one of the agents claims would happen if they heard the real truth.
- Government Conspiracy: With aliens, no less.
- Humanoid Abomination: The alien agent known only as A Friendly Man. He gets shot, has cars crash into him, and his smile never falters, even as he's yelling in people's faces and banishing them to the horizon.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Every parent is made to forget that their child ever existed. The clean-up squad missed a few photos and wall art behind wallpaper.
- Mama Bear/Papa Wolf
- Meaningful Background Event: The passengers are blissfully unaware, but the audience sees the oncoming car for several seconds before the crash occurs.
- Mind Rape: The agent tries to do this to Telly towards the end to make her forget Sam. It doesn't work.
- Motherhood Is Superior: Julianne Moore plays a mother still grieving over the loss of her son in a plane crash some time previously and suddenly wakes up to find that no one remembers he existed, not even her own husband. She talks to the father of another child who died in the crash and he doesn't remember either and only when shown physical evidence of her does he finally remember only to be taken away by the mysterious force stalking them. At the end this is all revealed to be part of an alien experiment to test the "mother-son bond", and whether it could be destroyed. Apparently not, since despite the aliens' best efforts, her memories cannot be erased. Eventually the kids are brought back and the dads don't remember a thing.
- Not Using the Z Word: "Aliens" is never said though everyone gets the general idea from the use of the word "abducted".
- Say My Name: Telly getting Ash to say Lauren's name helps trigger his memories of her. When she tries to get Jim to say Sam's name, he notably refuses.
- There Are No Therapists: Telly is seeing a therapist to cope with the loss of her son. He's in on the whole hoax.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: We really never find out what happens to Anne Pope, Jim or Dr Muntz. Presumably the last two had their memories reworked to erase the incident but Anne was snatched right up into the air so you never know.