REVIEW: Forgiveness (2021)

dir. Alex Kahaum

Three women awake in a dark and decrepit hospital having been deprived of one of their senses in this surrealist, Mexploitation horror. As they try to discover the reason for their captivity they are immersed in a nightmarish hell, subjected to torture and varying degrees of psychological abuse. 

Even though Forgiveness is initially set up as a Saw-like copycat, with victims attempting to figure out why and where they are being held hostage, the feature begins to take on a theatrical façade. With little-to-no dialogue the movement and interaction of the characters is almost in beautifully choreographed interpretative dance, smoothing the otherwise disturbing and uncanny narrative. 

Argento-esque lighting adds to the dream-like quality, leaving viewers in a state of optical disorientation. Similarly the sound design – alternating between complete silence and haunting operatic music – enhances the unsettling atmosphere and discomfort we, as a seemingly voyeuristic audience, are forced to experience. 

As such, technically and visually, Forgiveness is flawless: however in terms of plot it’s difficult to follow, lacking a clear raison d’etre. And whilst a certain level of ambiguity is commonplace in psychological cinema the narrative here remains a frustrating mystery. 

A dizzying yet vague puzzle without a satisfying ending, there are hazy sub-texts of gender-based discrimination and the violence this breeds; however any hint of commentary is lost in the beautiful and visually striking confusion.


Ygraine Hackett-Cantabrana

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