Tuesday, August 3, 2010
In Memorium (2005)
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