'Forever': Film Review

Forever Still - H 2015
Courtesy of Monterey Media

Forever Still - H 2015

Strong atmospherics make up for a less than original storyline.

A young reporter goes to stay at a mysterious rural commune in Tatia Pilieva's psychological thriller.

The unsettling vignettes seen before the credits feature provide a chilling harbinger of what's to come in Tatia Pilieva's debut feature about a young woman whose stay at a pastoral commune proves anything but restful. While it doesn't quite manage to sustain that same level of tension throughout, Forever is an intriguing psychological thriller that bears attention.

The central character is Alice (Deborah Ann Woll, True Blood), a young investigative reporter whose life is shattered by the sudden suicide of her live-in boyfriend (Jake McLaughlin). At the suggestion of her concerned editor (Tom Everett Scott), she decides to head to the rural retreat known as "The Clinic," which also happens to have been the subject of a story she had previously been working on.

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Despite the ominous warning of a stranger she meets along the way that "You don't want to be here," she arrives at the farm commune and, in order to remain incognito, pretends to be suffering from amnesia. The enigmatic leader (John Diehl) introduces her to the residents, an emotionally troubled lot that includes the hunky Charlie (Luke Grimes), with whom she soon begins a romance.

To reveal more of the story would be too much of a spoiler, but suffice it to say that Alice doesn't achieve anything near the blissful state experienced by Don Draper in the Mad Men finale.

The filmmaker, working from a script she co-wrote with Gill Dennis, lets the pacing lag as the film goes on, with the romantic subplot mostly proving a distraction. But she displays a fine eye for visual detail, especially when the story reaches its shocking conclusion.

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Woll makes for an appealingly spunky, damaged heroine, and Diehl conveys an appropriate air of mystery as the leader with an agenda. Notable among the supporting cast are Ioan Gruffudd, Rain Phoenix and Diane Salinger as an elderly commune resident with a flatulence problem.

Production: Foreverland Productions

Cast: Deborah Ann Woll, Luke Grimes, Ioan Gruffudd, John Diehl, Rhys Coiro, Jill Larson, Seth Gabel, Shanola Hampton, Jake McLaughlin, Tom Everett Scott

Director: Tatia Pilieva

Screenwriters: Gill Dennis, Tatia Pilieva

Producers: Jennifer Kristen Howell, Morgan Marling

Executive producers: Eric Kopeloff, Anita Mothersbaugh, Nancy O'Reilly, Lauren O'Reilly

Director of photography: Andre Lascris

Production designer: Teri Whittaker

Editor: Garret Price

Costume designer: Patrik Milani

Composer: Mark Mothersbaugh

Casting: Sari Knight, Mandy Sherman

Rated R, 95 min.