This article reveals the explained plot and the detailed events in Jang Hang-jun’s 2017 movie Forgotten, revealing its meaning, symbols and storyline. We recommend you to read it only after watching the movie, and not before, in order to preserve the pleasure of the first vision.
Forgotten is a 2017 film much appreciated by lovers of the psychological thriller. It presents an extremely fascinating plot, capable of confusing you, taking you in one direction for the first half of the film and then forcing you to see things from a completely different point of view. The intertwining of events is presented in an articulated way so the film can leave open questions. In this article we will provide the explanation of the plot, the ending of the film and we will describe how things really went.
Part 1: the apparent reality
In the first part of the film we observe the events from the point of view of the protagonist, Jin-seok. The boy is moving to a new home with his father, mother and older brother Yoo-seok. Jin takes psychiatric drugs on a daily basis, so the viewer is justified in doubting some aspects of what he observes in this part of the film.
In this section, Jun has strange nightmares and hears suspicious noises coming from a mysterious room in the new house, that he is forbidden to enter. Furthermore, a shocking fact happens: he witnesses the kidnapping of his brother by a gang of men inside a black van. The investigators show up in the house, but say that the plate number seen by Jun does not exist. Jun tries to take back the life he was leading.
19 days later, his brother Yoo comes back home. After a first moment of happiness, Jun begins to observe strange behaviors: his brother limps in a different way than before the kidnapping, and goes out in the middle of the night, denying it the day after. One night Jun follows him out of the house and discovers that his brother is not really limping, and that he goes to a building where the investigators that were in his house work for him. He is chased and eventually captured, drugged and put back to bed. The next day, his brother Yoo convinces him that all he saw was a hallucination due to the fact that he had skipped the pill that day. But through a couple of concrete evidence found in the room, Jun realizes he wasn’t wrong: the boy who sleeps in the room with him is not the real brother. He explains everything to his mother, but soon discovers that the whole family is involved in the staging: Jun realizes that he is being controlled by three individuals who pretend to be their family but are not.
He manages to escape and explain everything to the police. At that point the plot twist takes place and the confusion explodes in the viewer’s head. The police point out that the things Jun says don’t make sense: he can’t be 21, and we’re not in 1997 as he always thought. Jun observes the calendar hanging in the office: we are in 2017 and Jun is 41 years old.
Part 2: the fake brother version
Distraught and confused, Jun decides to go home and let the individuals who pretend to be his family explain what happened. When he arrives he finds the door to the mysterious room open, he walks in and witnesses a simulated murder scene, with fake blood and music coming out of the radio. He doesn’t understand what’s going on. The fake brother appears, says that “also this part of the plan has failed” and begins to explain to Jun what really happened.
We are in 2017. Jun has lived the last few days under the effect of a powerful regressive hypnosis and psychotropic drugs. He believed he was living in 1997 with his family, but the truth is that the three are part of the staging, and the father is the hypnotist. The reason for all this is revealed immediately: twenty years earlier, in 1997, Jun had killed a mother and her daughter in that house, leaving only the small child alive. The culprit was never found by the police and the survivors of the crime, in an attempt to find justice, had hired private investigators belonging to criminality to uncover the truth. The fake brother is the one in charge of this mission and manages to find him. They torture him for days (and in this phase we see scenes from the nightmares that Jun actually had every night), but there is a big problem: Jun has no memory of what he did. The events were so traumatic that he removed them from his conscious memory, and not even the hypnotist was able to recover them.
The plan then becomes to bring Jun back to 1997 through hypnosis, making him live again the last moments of his happy life before the traumatic events he has no memory of. The purpose of all of this is to force him to remember what he did, so that the family can take revenge on him by knowingly killing him after he becomes aware of what he did.
Yoo-seok’s kidnapping is the event that disrupts the plan: it was not a kidnapping, but a police arrest. The fake brother will spend 19 days in prison, then he will be able to get out corrupting everyone. The problem is that many days have passed and the effects of hypnosis on Jun are starting to lose their effectiveness. For this reason Jun begins to realize the oddities that surround him, while at the beginning the hypnosis that controlled him was still too strong to notice all this. But the noises he heard and the doubts he had were all real and well founded.
Jun-seok doesn’t fully accept this explanation: he has never killed anyone. He runs away, the two have a car accident and Jun wakes up in a hospital bed, with his fake brother next to him, ready to kill him with poison. But suddenly we discover that Jun’s memory has returned, and we relive it as it really happened.
Part 3: Forgotten’s plot explained
1997 was in fact the last year of happiness for Jun. We see him again in the car with his family, father, mother and older brother. They are actually different people from those he has lived with in the last few days. Jun sleeps with her shoulder resting on his mother. This is the exact moment the film begins, where the hypnotic staging takes place. In the sequence of real events of twenty years earlier, the family will have a serious accident during that car trip. The parents will die and the older brother ends up in hospital in critical condition, requiring expensive surgery. Jun remains alone, poor, desperate.
He tries to find work, in vain, due to the economic crisis. But one day he receives a particular proposal: a mysterious man offers him the money he needs, in exchange Jun has to kill a woman. Desperate, Jun accepts. He receives an address, which actually coincides with the house where he lived in those days, in order to relive that moment. He enters that house in the night, changes his mind, tries to leave the house, but something goes wrong, the big daughter starts screaming in fear. Jun is scared, he chases her and unintentionally kills her. The mother enters the room, Jun kills her too, then deceives the small child, who had woken up, and leaves the apartment, leaving the child alive.
The next day he meets the man who hired him for the murder: he is the father of that family and the doctor who takes care of Jun’s older brother. He wanted his wife to die to collect the insurance money, but he has discovered that his daughter is also dead and now he is furious with Jun. In a fight, the doctor dies. Jun returns home. From that moment begins the process in which he will unconsciously remove everything that has happened, completely forgetting about it in order to live in peace with his own conscience.
We are now back to the hospital room. Jun now has full memory of how things went. The boy in front of him, who still wants to know the truth, reveals that he is the surviving child. And he realizes that Jun did not act on his will. He therefore understands that it was his father who pushed him to do it, despite Jun denies, to avoid him this huge shock. With this awareness, he decides to spare Jun, leaves the room and throws himself out of the window: his life now no longer has a purpose, revenge against those who exterminated his family would be useless, he no longer has a reason to live (Jun wanted indeed to avoid this awareness to him, but he didn’t succeed to convince him that he was the only culprit). Jun also commits suicide with the poison that remained on his bed: now that he remembers everything he did, life is too difficult to live. The only thing that kept him alive in those years was the loss of memory for the horrible things he had done.
The ending of the film
The final scene shows Jun as a young man, in 1997, before setting off on his journey to his new home. The colors are bright, gaudy. That is the last moment of happiness in his life. A child approaches and interacts with him in silence, then returns to his family. Here we see the faces of the united family: the doctor who will take care of his brother in the months to come, the mother and daughter who will die. In that last moment of happiness, Jun was in harmony with the world and with the individuals whose existence he will destroy in a few months.