When amateur filmmaker Dennis Wade is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he decides to film his inevitable end. He and his girlfriend, Lily, rent a house, wire it with cameras and sound, and within days, are face-to-face with events and circumstances they can’t explain.
In Memorium has a number of unusual strengths to its credit. Sporting a cast of only five actors (really four that get any screen time), the film steers clear of a list of bit players and extras, forcing focus on the few people who really matter. Dennis (McDowell) slips between calm and frantic when the situation begins to get out of control. Lily (Watts) has already committed to the unknown by agreeing to stay with Dennis throughout his sickness.
What viewers don’t know is that Dennis and his family had a very rocky relationship. The abusive alcoholic mother was too much for her son to take, and he took off, leaving her in the care of his younger brother, Frank (Powell). Frank took care of her until the end, leaving a painful rift between the brothers. They attempt to mend their relationship even as Dennis and Lily try to stay sane through their unexplainable nights.
Why not just leave? They can’t. Once they try to exit, Dennis’ sickness accelerates, leaving them trapped in the house.
Another strength of the film is the use of odd angles and sweeping volume changes in sound. The introduction of the house security cameras allows director Amanda Gusack to shoot the film from a constantly off-center point of view, leaving viewers to investigate every shadow or reflection where something may appear. At times, the screen is completely black, with only the ambience of the house and whatever is in it. This includes the end credits, which creep along slowly with intermittent breaks.
The small cast doesn’t keep Gusack from creatively incorporating a few red herrings, and leaving her talented cast to reveal them one by one. McDowell (Cold Case) provides a solid anchor as the film’s protagonist, and Watts’ Lily is an accurate portrayal of a young woman dealing with the constant unknowns of her relationship. Powell’s performance grows steadier as the film progresses and Frank realizes the gravity of the situation. Portser is great as the understated landlady.
In all, In Memorium provides a frightening experience, as Dennis, Frank and Lily reveal more of the puzzle, and are left with no escape but to face their fear.
The movie’s mix of what is and isn’t there will have viewers chasing every shadow and sound.
The DVD included a brief trailer, incorporating one of the film’s early jumps. For more information, the official site is www.inmemoriumthemovie.com.