A group of friends (Jewel Staite, Justin Baldoni, Marc Bacher, Nikki Griffin, and Kellan Lutz) travelling to an island party via boat are led off-course by a wonky GPS, smashing into a reef. They end up having to jump ship and head for a nearby island. Once there, they realise they are not the only inhabitants of the island, and these natives don’t much like strangers. One by one our protagonists are picked off by these Neanderthal-looking jungle-dwellers.
Proof that the behind-the-scenes stories in cinema are often stranger than what we see on screen, is this Jorg Ihle film released in 2009. It was actually made back in 2006, but the studio thought extremely poorly of it. Unfortunately, writer/director Ihle and most of the cast were unavailable for reshoots, a new script was written with new characters, a mostly new cast was chosen (including Lance Henriksen), and as directed by Roel Reine, this new (ish) film was released as “The Lost Tribe” in 2009. However, Ihle’s version (which I saw second) also ended up being released in 2009. Yes, that’s right, even the supposedly crap version got released. I’ve honestly never heard of this happening before.
The weirdest thing of all? Neither film is terrible, neither film is drastically different from the other (although they’re not as identical as I had expected), and both are actually kinda watchable. Briefly, “The Lost Tribe” had some interesting ideas, good locales, a game Lance Henriksen, and cool sound FX, but was let down by ugly and shockingly inappropriate DV cinematography, and a bunch of unlikeable and uninteresting characters. That last one is for me the most significant difference between the two films. “The Forgotten Ones” gives us more of a standard young adult horror cast (plus portly Marc Bacher, who was also in “The Lost Tribe”), but the characters suck considerably less than the characters in “The Lost Tribe”, and are thus more agreeable. Although the darkness had its advantages in attack scenes in “The Lost Tribe”, “The Forgotten Ones” is far more attractive in the daylight, despite clearly not being shot on celluloid. Perhaps it was shot earlier in the day or in better weather conditions, but I really feel like this version used the locales more effectively.
One area where I feel “The Lost Tribe” fared better is in pacing. “The Forgotten Ones” has a disastrously slow pace, although the opening scenes are actually more interesting than in “The Lost Tribe”.
I’m kind of annoyed that this film was even released in the first place, to be honest. It’s essentially a remake of a film that ended up being released the same year, and with differences that ultimately don’t make either version notably better or worse than the other. This film is a bit slicker and easier on the eyes, but not enough so that I felt I really needed to see essentially the same idea twice (even if this version does have a “Twilight” alum in Kellan Lutz, and a young Laura Dern lookalike in Jewel Staite).
I really don’t know what was so bad about this film that there was a need to scrap it and start over. Nor do I see any reason why this version would end up being released, anyway. Now, if only Lance Henriksen had turned up in this version, that would definitely be enough to recommend this one over “The Lost Tribe”, but as it stands, it’s much of a muchness. The changes are incremental, at the end of the day. Personally, if you’ve seen one of these films, I’d suggest you don’t bother with the other. There’s really no need, outside of perverse curiosity.
This isn’t good, but it isn’t bad, either. The best recommendation I can give is that it’s watchable and not nearly as bad as the producers seemed to think.