It’s been seven long years since Eric Stanze’s last, and best, film RATLINE. Now, after what seems like an eternity since the trailer was released IN MEMORY OF has emerged. Quite possibly his most ambitious film, it’s certainly not anything I would have expected after RATLINE and DEADWOOD PARK. With it’s shifting, dreamlike narrative punctuated by flashes of nudity, (male and female), and gore at times it feels more like something from the Jess Franco or Jean Rollin.
Amber (Jackie Kelly, TENNESSEE GOTHIC) suffers from the same disease that killed her mother. A disease that destroys the brain and robs its victims of their memory. Now a clinical study for a drug to treat it has ended with her fellow subjects dead and Amber regaining consciousness in a puddle of blood. Simon (Jason Christ THE UNDERTOW, ICE FROM THE SUN), the lead scientist tells her there are men after her, (she’s already killed one), for what’s in her head. He sends her on a mission spanning several states.
What could have been a cliché road trip tale becomes something quite different and surreal. She has flashbacks to her childhood, to life with an abusive boyfriend Darren (Adam Ahlbrandt, director of CROSS BEARER and HUNTERS) who cheated on her and forced into prostitution and possibly worse. She talks to people who are supposedly dead, hallucinates and slips between alternates versions of reality before IN MEMORY OF reaches its final revelations.
Mixing realistic images of rural America with nightmarish reminisces IN MEMORY OF is more of a cinematic fever dream than an all-out horror film. The script by Stanze, Christ and Kelly does have some straight up scares but they’re not the film’s driving force. It’s more interested in messing with your mind than making you jump out of your seat. In leaving a deeper kind of dread and unease than just jump scares.
Kelly is in almost every scene in the film and she fills her role well. The supporting cast includes familiar faces from the director’s other films Emily Haack (SCRAPBOOK, CHINA WHITE SERPENTINE) and D.J. Vivona (ICE FROM THE SUN) as well as frequent indie horror actress Haley Madison (HUNTERS, SPACE BABES FROM OUTER SPACE) all do well.
At 122 minutes IN MEMORY OF does feel a bit long but not horribly so. However, that’s really the only complaint I have. As long as you understand that you’re not getting a standard horror film and you can give this the attention it needs you should enjoy the film.