When it comes to indie films, I try to keep the playing field level in my head. What I mean by that is that often, when given a film to review, filmmakers will begin to tell me the trials and tribulations that went into the filming. Some ask for me to be a bit more forgiving due to those possible issues, but I have to remain very shrewd about it. Movies are hard to make, and if it isn’t someone hustling for equipment, it’s a maxed out credit card or a family member under piles of debt. The battle is challenging period, and in the end, as a film critic, I need to focus on what the film does for me, not how the film may have been created. Those production stories are great educational tools for other filmmakers, or quality anecdotes and entertainment for an interview, but when it comes to a film review, the film has to speak the loudest.
I wanted to point that out so that you realize that my appreciation for the film Memory Lane has nothing to do with the fact that it was made for just $300. That budgetary fact is amazing to me, but in the end it’s also just trivia. How is the film itself? Actually really good. Not “good for a $300 movie,” but “good for a movie” period.
Nick (Michael Guy Allen) is recently home from war and things are not going well for him. He’s having trouble shaking the battlefield, and he’s lost amongst the day-to-day normalcy of life. That is, until he meets Kayla (Meg Barrick) one evening. The two connect and their relationship progresses rapidly as Nick buys her a house and prepares to propose to her (the order seems backward to me, but whatever). Tragedy hits, however, when Kayla seemingly commits suicide in the bathtub while Nick is away picking out the engagement ring.
Disconsolate over the loss, Nick eventually decides to join Kayla in death, though instead of slitting his wrists, he drops a radio into the bathtub with him. Nick doesn’t die, though. Instead the shock of near death helps him re-live his memories spent with Kayla, only now he notices something different and begins to think that Kayla may not have committed suicide, but was murdered instead. Unfortunately his insight ends when he returns from his near death state, so he comes up with a solution: create a mechanism that will allow him to electrocute himself just enough to bring on the memories, and have his friends revive him before it’s too late.
I know, it seems convoluted when I explain it, but as it plays out in the film it doesn’t seem all that odd. The cinematography looks great, the pace is solid, and for the most part the film keeps you engaged with the various ideas and emotions it presents. The audio leaves something to be desired from time to time, particularly when multiple people are onscreen and talking in an acoustically-challenged space like a garage, but it’s never too distracting or so awful that you can’t hear what’s going on.
The final resolution to the film’s mystery didn’t ring all that wonderful with me, and seemed a little too forced and neat considering the rest of the film, but other than that, I enjoyed the story. Every once and a while a performance chews too much scenery, but the moments are short-lived. Basically, the film is solid and good, but not perfect. At least it gives us a new spin on a Flatliners-friendly premise, and keeps your attention throughout, which is harder than it sounds.
This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.