The Forgotten is a 2004 Suspense/Thriller by Joseph Ruben and starring Julianne Moore, Dominic West, Alfre Woodard, Linus Roache, and Gary Sinise. 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.
Not related to the 2017 Korean thriller Forgotten.
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.
- Amnesia Missed a Spot: After the aliens finally intimidate Telly into letting them erase all memories she has of Sam, they only erased all mmemories she has of him until the moment he was born — they forgot to erase the memories of her being pregnant. She immediately gloats about it, and the apparently head alien gets yanked up into the sky immediately after.
- Awful Truth: NSA agent Patellis' excuse for their secrecy in the film.Ash Correll: Tell us the truth.
Agent Patellis: The truth? The goddamn truth won't fit in your brain.
- Bittersweet Ending: Telly gets her son back, same with Ash and her daughter, but her life is forever changed, such as her husband being forgotten about.
- Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Ash pushes himself and the alien out a window and freefall to the street below. Well, Ash does — the alien is yanked up into space by his coworkers.
- 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.
- Definite Article Title: The Forgotten
- 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.
- Faux Affably Evil: The only alien we see on-screen looks like an approachably nice man (Linus Roache is even labeled as "A Friendly Man" on the credits). The best term to describe him, once we see him go all-out and all of the facts are revealed, is "Humanoid Abomination".
- Fiery Redhead: It's no coincidence that passionate and determined Telly is red haired.
- Game Face: When the Friendly Man tries to force Telly to forget her son, he gets angry and yells at her in a high-pitched fashion, breaking glass around him. His face briefly deforms into an almost Grey-like fashion.
- Gaslighting: A particularly weird and ambitious example. The government tries to convince the parents of abducted children that their child never existed by removing evidence or literally wallpapering over it.
- 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.
- Happy Flashback: Several flashbacks to when Sam and Lauren were around. These scenes have bright colors and a glow effect unlike the rest of the film.
- 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: Ash and Telly both band together to find out what the hell is going on once they have proof that their children are missing and are not hallucinations.
- 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.
- Top-Down View: The film has excessive aerial shots. These are actually the point of view of aliens when they observe earth and follow the humans.
- Wham Line: "I need more time!"
- 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.