This review was originally published on March 25, 2013 and referenced the original title of Wyke Wreake; Review has been edited to reflect the title change…
Kate (Gemma Deerfield), still distraught over the loss of her son, calls together her sister Bec (Edwina Lea) and her sister’s boyfriend Thom (Leon Florentine) to assist her in a séance. Together in a small room, the walls decorated with occult symbols and newspaper clippings of various murderers, the three utilize a Ouija board to make contact with someone, anyone, who may be able to help Kate find her son. And make a connection they do.
At the same time, tortured soul Alex (Jon Stoley) wanders the afterlife, reliving not only his past crimes but also the occasional torments of his own Hell. With the gates of communication open, Alex is the one on the other end of the Ouija board, and while he seems genuinely regretful for his past, he’s also not above torturing his new friends. Then again, by the time the film ends, exactly who is the tormented, and who is the one doing the torment, will be open to interpretation, as are much of the story’s events, and their overall meaning.
The Rutley Brother’s Amnesiac is a nightmarishly fantastical horror tale that truly challenges one to think about what is unfolding in front of them. Considering some of the subject matter, really contemplating these elements does not always make for a pleasant time; the film walks you into the private Hells of two individuals and leaves you there, far beyond any levels of comfort.
And frankly, while I often felt myself off balance with much of what is going on, I appreciated the ambiguity and confusion that the film fosters. Often what you think is going on is not really the true story, but then again, perhaps it is, and the film is just a pile of tangled misdirections. Calling this psychological horror wouldn’t be incorrect, but I think that often the ones being psychologically tormented are those watching the film. This is not meant to be taken as a negative.
While the film does get pretty out there, I think it plays within the rules of the world it presents and, by the end of the film, all bets are off anyway. There are some bold narrative choices that I’m not going to spoil here, but I appreciated that the film toyed with the relationships of those connected via the Ouija board, and kept things from getting too obvious or predictable. Again, some things may seem hard to accept in the moment, but in hindsight everything works out, depending on your interpretation.
It’s not all roses, though. I often had problems understanding what was being said in sequences where characters are giving an otherworldly voice effect; the actors all have accents, so that was a challenge for me to a certain extent anyway, but when the voices start getting tweaked with demonic sounding tones, it was truly difficult to grasp what was being said. Luckily, much of those conversations become clear elsewhere, but in the moment they can be frustrating to try and decipher.
Also, while I enjoyed the pace and the tone of the film, at least the séance sequences, particularly early on, feel a bit too much like verbose exposition-fests. Understandable, and thankfully the film doesn’t dwell in that realm for long, but it is noticeable enough. It also makes the performances in those instances, which are quite natural throughout otherwise, feel forced.
Overall, if you’re looking for a nice mindfuck of a horror film, give Amnesiac a look. If you’re not too into the heady elements, the film does have its fair share of gore in proper balance, and regardless is a unique enough watch.
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