Tuesday, August 3, 2010

In Memorium (2005)

Fear 5/5
Gore 1/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 5/5

Many thanks to the fantastically awesome filmmaker and all around groovy person Elisabeth Fies for recommending this indie production. In Memorium is a film that is haunting, terrifying and ultimately, thought provoking. It's films like this that make it easier for me to defend the position of why I'm a horror fan. For me, the horror genre is the only one which can simultaneously make you scared, excited, terrified, disgusted, laugh, cry and think. What other genre can you practically run through the entire gamut of human emotions with? In Memorium pretty much touches on all the aforementioned feelings and it will stay with you long after the credits roll.

From the start, we are viewing this story through the lens of a filmmaker as he and his girlfriend get settled into a home which they're renting for a couple of months. But this isn't a normal story of love and life he's decided to document. Rather he turns the camera on himself as he sits on the doorstep of his new residence and tells us the gut wrenching fate which awaits him. He's been diagnosed with terminal cancer, his only options for 'survival' being an amputation, chemo and maybe, a fifteen or so percent chance living after all of that. With his girlfriend by his side, he decides to instead document his choice, living out his remaining days and wiring the entire house with cameras and speakers to catch everything as it unfolds. He hopes it will serve as a living document of his life and the love that he shares with his girlfriend. What he actually captures is something entirely different.

After a night in which sounds of water churning through the houses piping is heard, the boyfriend replays video which was captured and notices a dark figure seated in a chair in the house's sitting room. It gets up and moves towards the camera, the camera cutting out when the figure draws near.

Startled by their finding, the couple try to make some sense of it. They come across a diary kept by the landlord of all of her tennants. Initally believing it to be the spirit of a woman who had fallen ill, their notion is dispelled when the landlord informs them that her former tenant is in fact still alive.

The boyfriend's kid brother has been visiting them frequently. The sickened brother admits to him the grief he carries over never being there for his substance abusing mother who died months prior to with cancer herself. The brother is shown the captured recording and right away, as he hears a subtle whisper emanating from the brother's computer speakers, he's instantly horrified at the very thought of who it could be.

In between all of this, the boyfriend and brother becomes increasingly more sickened, his symptoms not at all indicative of his own afflictions. The boyfriend and girlfriend repeatedly try to leave the house only to have the boyfriend become more violently ill. And it becomes apparent that whatever is in the house doesn't want them to leave. With the brother holing up with them in the house, we learn that it has plans for our trapped inhabitants.

The cinema verite style of film is handled expertly, bringing a genuine sense of realism. Of course, it also helps to have wonderful acting. Nothing felt forced or contrived. It always felt like real people having real experiences and interactions. On top of all that, when the intentions of the spirit are made known, it's pretty unnerving as it makes you ponder what it means to live and die. I'm still thinking about it today.

What filmmaker Amanda Gusack has achieved with this film is nothing short of remarkable. Cynics might say 'Oh great, another Paranormal Activity-type of film'. For one, the two are nothing alike other than the found footage angle. And the pure contemplative nature of it trumps any sort of lasting effect (other than maybe going to sleep with a night light on) the aforementioned film has. It's also important to note that it came out before. This film deserves every bit of notoriety as PA. And then some.

- The filmmaker is currently working on distribution. I'll post an update once it's finalized. Until then, check out the film's website for more info: http://www.inmemoriumthemovie.com/

Cortez the Killer

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Tower Farm said...

The post makes this sound interesting. Am I understanding correctly that this was made before Paranormal Activity? If so, PA has to be a hard pill to swallow for the filmmaker.


Chris Hallock said...

This is a pretty top notch review, man. Your writing has become so strong!

I am really looking forward to seeing this and I hope we can get a copy to screen it in our neck of the woods.

Pidde Andersson said...

I haven't seen this movie myself, but just before last year's AFM, I mentioned IN MEMORIUM to a friend working for Scandinavian distributor Scanbox. A couple of days later, she wrote me and said they had bought it for release over here. Great! As far as I know, they haven't released it yet.
Check out MJ Simpson's review and interview with Amanda att www.mjsimpson.co.uk!

Scare Sarah said...

Oh god, that effin creeped me out. LOVE this kind of movie.

Matt-suzaka said...

Sounds like it would be right up my alley, and you have not done me dirty as far as your indie horror suggestions. I will certainly keep my legs open for this one. I mean eyes.

TerrorScribe said...

Good review. I'm going to have to hunt this one down.

B-Movie Becky said...

This looks great. I was a big fan of PA, but this looks pretty different. The cancer/impending death angle should be interesting. I'll definitely check this out when it becomes available.

Emily said...

You've totally got me intrigued. I feel like I heard something about this one a few months back (Fangoria maybe?) but I trust you to keep us updated on its release.

Cortez The Killer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cortez The Killer said...

@JM, you understood correctly sir. I'm planning on interviewing the director and invariably, the topic of PA will come up. Its hard not too ask about it. But mark my words, I believe this to be a far superior film.

@Chris, coming from such a tremendous writer as yourself, that means a lot. Thank you. I hope you enjoy this film as much as I did.

@Pidde, thank you for stopping by and commenting. And for posting a link. Some interesting tidbits about the making of the film.

@Scare Sarah, it WILL scare (scar?) you ;)

@Matt, it is right up your alley. I wouldn't steer you wrong brudda.

@TerrorScribe, thank you. As of right now, distro is still being worked on (at least stateside).

@Becky, I think this one will be right up your alley as well. And the whole death/cancer angle brings a more humanizing element to the film. Another aspect which trumps PA.

@Emily, you certainly can count on me. This film deserves to be seen by as many folks as possible. Its that amazing.

Kid Sis said...

Eff yes!!!! Thank you thank you for bringing more people the IM word! Woooot! <3 this film so hard...it's one of my all-time favorites.

Geof said...

This sounds very intriguing, JC and it also sounds very different from PA. By leaps and bounds actually. It seems that the comparisons are there, but this has a totally different spin on things.

I love how you find diamonds in the rough like these.

Cortez The Killer said...

@Lis, it is now one of my all-time favs. An instant classic.

@Geof, it's my duty sir. If it wasn't for original filmmakers like Amanda, horror would be dead, in my very humble opinion.

Anonymous said...

WHERE does one find such a find?! You know Netflix doesn't have it...

Cortez The Killer said...

Hey Anonymous, check out the last line of the review. Filmmaker is still working on distribution. Hopefully we'll see it available sometime soon. I'll keep the masses posted.