Mess with the unknown at your own peril, time-worn wisdom goes. Nowadays people seem willing to risk it as our own familiar world grows more opaque. Lurking right where we would least suspect, Writer/Director Ali Akbar Akbar Kamal takes us for a ride straight into that heart of the unknown in Godforsaken.
Available on Terror Films AVOD Channel since March 25th and On Digital/VOD as of April 8th, Godforsaken is shot out of a cannon. Kamal (Faceless 2016) immediately sets the stage with a brazenly absurd supernatural incident at a young woman’s funeral. It appears she’s not as dead as she’s supposed to be and her “reawakening” throws the small, one horse town she called home for a loop. A witness (and friend of hers) returns soon after with a documentary crew to figure out what happened.
Kamal’s macabre mystery takes the form of found footage. So beware, if you are one of those viewers who finds suspending your disbelief a tall order watching found footage, this may not be for you. These scenarios can often be contrived and Godforsaken is no different admittedly. However, and this is a big however, Kamal smartly draws us into the story quickly and builds up good will fast so you want to go with it.
Call this a testament to Kamal’s focus. Godforsaken is an energetic and chaotic watch. Lean, mean and tense, it’s also legit creepy and terrifying and times. Kamal keeps the story well-paced and also keeps us guessing. The nature of the supernatural goings on is kept just out of our protagonists’ reach. As such, Godforsaken becomes a simple to follow story. We discover and register the intense horror alongside the documentary crew as the situation unfolds.
Not only that, but Kamal gives us some ideas to chew on. These kids who come back to town are looking for a big break in the film industry. Godforsaken asks us: what would you sacrifice to make it? Godforsaken also considers the nature of tradition and religion on different levels. Something may “work” or can be trusted because it’s old, but at some point there was something older. And at other points that older tradition changed to what someone today would call old. And maybe we got wrong what those traditions were all about.
Kamal plays with these ideas in a sleek way, rarely slowing down. They are there if you want to think about them. While the story does maintain a mostly breakneck pace, Kamal does know when to hit the brakes and let a scene breathe, frightening or not.
Overall, Godforsaken isn’t perfect. Some of the acting is iffy, and the budget shows at times. Plus, as mentioned, you are either with the decision to keep recording as everything goes to hell or you aren’t. However, if you are willing to give it a chance, it can be really fun. All told, Cryptic Rock gives Godforsaken 3.5 out of 5 stars.