I was actually offered the chance to review writer/director Sean Mannion’s first feature, Meme, for an unusual reason. I’d previously reviewed Ayla which featured Meme’s star Sarah Schoofs, (she also plays a zombie in Black Wake, but that’s easy to miss). Couldn’t say no to that, could I?
Schoofs stars as Jennifer, a woman whose relationship and career are both having issues. Clients make outrageous demands and are slow in paying for her work, and her boyfriend of eight years Tommy (Shivantha Wijesinha) has become obsessed with collecting rare VHS tapes. And much less interested in sex. Trying to share his hobby, she becomes obsessed with a mixtape called Meme.
When she finds out Tommy has been cheating on her with another collector Carrie (Kitty Ostapowicz) she bolts, First to her best friend Lesley’s (Lauren A. Kennedy, Hell House LLC, Hell House LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel) apartment and then to the bottom of a bottle. Needing something to help her pull herself together, she sets out to find the maker, and the meaning, of Meme.
Mannion has said that one of Meme’s influences was Cronenberg’s Videodrome. And it shows in the film’s structure if not its plot. The importance of VHS tapes to the plot is obvious. Also, the characters at times become part of what seems to be a film within a film. Scenes suddenly look like they’re playing on a VHS. Some are actually seen playing on a TV. It’s a little confusing at first, but once you get used to it, it’s quite effective. And thankfully not overused.
It plays nicely into a theory that runs through the Meme tape that reality isn’t what we think it is. Hearing it explained is interesting, and the film does a better job of explaining it than I could. It makes a nice offset to the more serious issues like excessive drinking and infidelity the film raises. It also helps give Jennifer motivation to get her life in order.
Meme is an enjoyable film that thankfully never gets too heavy with the drama or too arty with its film techniques. It finds an effective style and works within it.