Judge David Johnson was disappointed that this wasn't an adaptation of the classic Hasbro game. He was awesome at that.
Sometimes memories can kill.
Featuring a slew of recognizable names and compelling twisty-turny psychological narrative, this direct-to-DVD thriller based on the novel of the same name offers intrigue out of the box. The biggest challenge for Memory is to not be forgotten in the bargain rack.
Facts of the Case
Billy Zane (Titanic) stars as Taylor Briggs, a researcher who starts having nightmarish visions. He's seeing things happened in the past, through the eyes of a child-murderer and he has no idea why. We eventually find out that he's been exposed to a hallucinogenic drug from the South American rainforests (of course), that awakens memories within his DNA. Or something. There was a big explanation about how memories are passed down from parent to offspring, but I was nodding off.
Finding it a tough sell to get people to believe his lunacy, including family friends Carol (Ann-Margret) and Max (Dennis Hopper), Taylor is forced to unravel the mystery himself. He is soon aided by his new girlfriend Stephanie (Tricia Helfer, Battlestar Galactica) and the truth that he discovers will be a real shocker. To him, that is. You'll probably figure this one out before the opening credits stop rolling.
I suppose there may be some people out there who would find Memory entertaining, but I would hazard these are the same people that find made-for-TV movies entertaining. Memory wants to be a full-sale theatrical thriller, and it arguably boasts a cast recognizable enough to merit that classification, but I never shook the feeling while I was watching it that it deserved to go straight to DVD. In fact, the film, made in 2005, has sat dormant for two years until finally getting its digital debut.
While I wouldn't say it's horrible, the film did nothing to grab me and I forgot about it—ironically enough—immediately after popping it out of the disc tray. The biggest impasse to make it an enjoyable experience was the petrified-turtle-like nature of its forward momentum. Director Bennett Joshua Davlin who also wrote the novel the film was based on as well as the screenplay, slows the action down and shoots sparingly. Actually, "action" is probably too strong a word. "Moving images on my TV" is more accurate. The only times the film's pulse quickens are during Taylor's sporadic visions and the finale when he faces off with the killer. Too bad those visions are barely compelling at best, highlighted a by a handful of cheap jump scares and finished and segueing into more talking before you know it. The finale fares better, though the suspense of the killer's reveal may not be as hard-hitting if you nab the identity early on. Still, the fight takes place in a creepy house of horrors set and that adds panache.
Those are the most thrilling moments of this thriller unfortunately. Memory is built on the singular mission of discovering a) why Taylor is having these visions and b) who the killer is. If you a) don't really care and b) nail the answers early on, the remainder of the runtime will be an epic chore. And that's what irked me most about the film, the lethargic pacing. This thing takes its time and I'm not entirely sure why. There a lots of scenes with Billy Zane screaming about how no one believes him and a lengthy courtship arc with Helfer's character (who does well in a more traditional role than the cyber-sexpot she portrays on BSG) and a few too many dinner scenes and then once in a while you get treated to a hallucination scene that breaks up the monotony well. The rest of the acting is fine, though it's pretty much all Billy Zane and thankfully he doesn't look too bored. I guess if you have a strip poker scene with Tricia Helfer to look forward to you can summon up a moderate amount of interest.
Echo Bridge gave this reclusive film a solid DVD treatment. The visuals come in at a clean 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and you have your pick of DTS or Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound mixes. Extras: a lengthy making-of documentary hosted by the filmmakers, an impressive feature-length storyboard animatic with commentary by Davlin and an audio commentary on the finished film with Davlin and his co-writers.
Memory isn't a dog of a film, but I can see why its release was stunted; the slow-poke pacing and the mediocre story should keep it readily available for rent on your neighborhood video store shelf.
The court finds the accused…um…uh, what film am I reviewing again?
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
• Writers/Director Commentary
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