Memory (film, 2008)
From Death Ray 12.
Writer: Anthony Badalucco, Bennett Davlin
Director: Bennett Davlin
Starring: Billy Zane, Tricia Helfer, Dennis Hopper, Ann-Margret Olsson
Billy Zane goes insane when drugs affect his brain. But is it all real? Nonsense thriller with a minor SF twist.
Tricia Helfer steps off the Galactica for a rare film role. If she keeps picking ones like this, they’ll stay rare, or she’ll join poor old Billy Zane in endless rounds of rubbish.
Memory is one of those far-fetched thrillers, like The Color of Night (why I thought of that I have no idea), which have an edge of the unreal to them. Here the weirdness is provided by a powder made out of human pituitary glands that, when ingested, allows a person access to the memories of their ancestors, right up to the moment of their birth. After being exposed to the material on a trip to Brazil, Tyler Briggs (Zane) starts to hallucinate his forebear’s memories, and they are memories of murder!
This is utter tosh, packed full of unlikely coincidences and rubbish explication. Apparently the religion that uses the powder, kept alive by a tribe of Indians, is two million years old! And Dennis Hopper’s character wears the same pair of trainers for thirty years, just so they can provide a red herring. Sorry. did I spoil it? It doesn’t matter, the finale is set up in such a way that the twist is utterly predictable from the end of the first act.
There’s a certain naturalness to the performances that gives it a shot of verité, but the director’s attempts to further this through POV camerawork is naff as you like, and we’re talking let’s-follow-the-words-on-the-page-as-Billy-reads-them-aloud sort of naff. You know the effortless way they pull this kind of thing off on Peep Show? Well, don’t expect it here.
Magic DNA is invoked to explain why Zane’s character sees through the eyes of his murderous parent, that’s the only SF element. The rest is pure tired thriller template. It is sort of entertaining, and I suppose that’s all you can expect from a film of this ilk, but for a movie about memory, it is instantly forgettable. The only thing it reminds you of is how promising Billy Zane’s career seemed once, long ago, and you definitely need some magic powder to remember that.