Sometimes, after watching a film, your reaction is one of confusion. As in, what the hell did you just watch? Sometimes, it’s a good thing, as it has you wanting to watch the film again, because you enjoyed it so much and you want to piece together what you just watched. Other times, as in the case of director/writer Till Hastreiter’s The Forbidden Girl, you end passing on another viewing. The mystery as to what you just saw be damned when a film has seemingly thrown things against the wall in an effort to see what sticks.
Tobias McClift is the son of a fundamentalist preacher, who is is intently focused on Tobias not falling in love, or having anything to do with love. Failure of Tobias to do so would be catastrophic. Nevertheless, Tobias meets up with Katie, with whom he’s romantically involved. But before they can enjoy each other, a demonic entity shows up and carries Katie away. Fast forward six years later, and Tobias is being released from a psychiatric hospital over the whole thing. He manages to snag a tutoring position in a huge Gothic mansion for a reclusive young girl named Laura Wallace. Turns out, Laura is his beloved Katie. Held captive by the mistress of the house, Lady Wallace, and her protector/lover, Mortimer, Tobias pledges to free Laura/Katie. But it turns out that his father’s words weren’t crazy after all.
I suppose the best thing going for the film is it’s cinematography. The sets and Gothic locale are quite beautiful to look at, particularly the interior of the castle. The plethora of visual detail combined with the varying uses of filters and colour saturation really make the film visually appealing. There’s also a dream sequence early on that evokes thoughts of David Lynchian surrealism, which again is a visual treat.
Acting-wise, we get decent performances by the two leads in Peter Gadiot and Jytte-Merle Böhrnsen. Gadiot is likeable as Tobias, and feels very natural in the role. Böhrnsen does well as the mysterious Laura/Katie, having fun with the role as a flirty, confused woman. Klaus Tange worked well as Mortimer. The guy was certainly creepy and unpredictable, looking like an edgier version of Rutger Hauer from Blade Runner. Jeanette Hain was interesting to see as Lady Wallace, going through various stages of makeup and attempting to change up her character for each one unique.
However, all of that can’t make up for the fact that this film is a bore. The problems begin with the story. It’s all over the place with a bunch of ideas thrown into the blender and puréed. What comes out feels very disjointed and confusing. Is it a love story? A ghost story? Witchcraft? Using a far simpler story would’ve made things more bearable. Chopping off some of that 106 minute runtime would’ve been nice, too. I guess this is why you shouldn’t have three different writers, and one of them is directing. Instead of being creepy, the film ends up being more about it’s visuals.
The other thing is the use of CGI. Bad CGI. For starters, smoke monsters really should be kept to shows co-created by J.J. Abrams. Also, because this film was originally shot in 3D, certain shots have that ‘cutout’ feeling to them, making the CGI even more apparent. It’s just one bad After Effects shot after another. The bad CGI reaches it’s peak during the ridiculous ending, where a slow-motion sex dance straight out of 300 has a light show involving the aforementioned eclipse that ends up forming a pentagram and what the f*ck am I watching?!
So yeah, The Forbidden Girl definitely is a case for either the cure for insomnia or having your brain start to kill itself. Style over substance is definitely the case here, as the camera alone can’t stave off a ridiculous and boring story, coupled with alright acting and abuse of CGI. The case art for this DVD is a complete lie, as the shot depicted on the cover must be from a more entertaining than this one.
Presented in 1.77:1 anamorphic widescreen, the image features strong colour reproduction with good detail. The darker scenes do tend to suffer a bit with regards to shadow details, however given the filters used during these sequences to pump up the saturation, it’s probably done on purpose. There were a couple of scenes where aliasing errors crept up, but other than that, this is an overall appropriate transfer.
Audio-wise, the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track isn’t going to blow you away, but it does the job. Dialogue is clear and free of any distortion, and while there’s not a lot of movement in the directionals, action is mostly kept to the centre speaker. The score doesn’t overpower, and is balanced with the rest of the audio.
The sole extra included is the film’s trailer.