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GODFORSAKEN (2020)

Directed and Written by Ali Akbar Akbar Kamal.
Starring Chad Tailor, Mélie B. Rondeau, Katie Fleming, Domenic Derose, Nicole Fairbairn, Chris Kelly, JoAnn Bundock, Flora Burke, Dan Bieman, Pat Raftis

Wannabe filmmaker Chad (Chad Taylor) convinces a pair of other wannabe filmmakers to return to his hometown and shoot a documentary about a local woman, Lisa (Mélie B. Rondeau) who was caught on film rising from the dead during her own funeral. When they arrive in town, they find the townsfolk fearful at first of Lisa who appears as a screaming monster, but develops the power to heal and other mystical powers. Soon the town begins a cult-like following of Lisa, which leaves the documentarians running for their lives.

GODFORSAKEN is a found footage movie, which means a whole lot of shaky cam. I mean, a whole lot of shaky cam and a big bunch of screaming. Basically, the last half hour of GODFORSAKEN is indistinguishable screaming and camera work that can barely be discerned. There are quite a few times where the camera is dropped right in the right place at the right time to catch the action that’s going on. But aside from all of that, it attempts to be as authentic as it can. There are very few produced scenes. No jarring editing between various cameras of varying types. Everything feels candid and happening in the moment. Most importantly, they didn’t cheat and use a soundtrack to amp up frightening moments. That, I appreciate most of all about this film.

There are quite a few disturbing scenes. The story deals with religion in interesting ways. It pits those who are church-going against a town being slowly taken over by an evil force. While the church versus evil has been done before, I liked the way Lisa’s power affected the different people in the town. The climax is quite violent. There’s a whole lot going on and filmmaker Ali Akbar Akbar Kamal is able to tell a story despite the shaky cam and screaming. It’s not the most original climax, but it is at least coherent.

I didn’t love the cast. Chad (played by Chad Taylor) feels just like a Chad, if you know what I mean. He’s got a clothes model look that just doesn’t fit the downhome feeling he’s trying to play. He just seems a bit to polished for this type of role and a few times there were some acting beats that just didn’t work for me. Still, he kept the film together as the main face to follow. There were quite a few moments that didn’t ring true to me—as if it were amateur actors reading lines rather than that immediate, in the moment dialog that shows up in the best of the found footage films.

Despite the criticisms, I did find a lot to like about GODFORSAKEN. The movie gets points for having a cool premise I haven’t seen before. Eventually, the film devolves into a [REC]-like zombie movie with the filmmakers running for their lives from the undead everywhere. But up until the climax, the film does offer up some interesting concepts that break the mold of most zombie slash possession films.

Check out the trailer here!!