In Memorium (2005) – By Timothy Martinez

 Dennis Wade is a struggling filmmaker who one day learns that he has terminal bone cancer. Even with chemotherapy and the amputation of three of his limbs, he is only given a fifteen percent chance of survival. After weighing his options, he decides to let the disease run it’s course rather than loose his legs and arm. He rents a house with his girlfriend Lily and decides to document his final days on camera. This he does by setting up a series of motion-triggered cameras throughout the home that can easily see what is going in any room at any given time. As the first couple of days go past all seems normal, with the camera capturing the highs and lows of his relationship with Lily. He has a visitor in the form of his younger brother Frank and the two discuss their late mother – a horrible woman who neither truly liked and who Dennis chose not to visit as she lay dying in the hospital. This is a point of contention between the two brothers, as Frank feels that Dennis should have gone to see her before her death.

Then one night the cameras briefly record the image of a woman dressed in black as she sits in a rocking chair in one of the bedrooms. This is accompanied by strange sounds in the night. More strange things are heard and seen as time goes by. Not sure whether they are having intruders in the house or something else entirely, Dennis and Lily look into the history of the house for answers and discover some odd facts about a former tenant. Soon it is apparent that there is some otherworldly force in the house – one that does not wish them to leave. With the spread of Dennis’ cancer accelerating at an unprecedented rate, their time is running out. Still, nothing can prepare them for the horrifying truth behind what is going on.

As noted at the film’s beginning, the images in the movie are what Dennis’ cameras recorded over the space of a week. At first glance, the pseudo documentary approach taken by this film might remind people of a famous film from a few years back that employed a similar style. However, this film differs from that infamous movie by not having such footage appear so jarringly inept. There are no shaking hand-held cameras here to make the viewer feel sick, as the units doing the recording are affixed firmly to stable surfaces. This really helps ground the characters in their “reel” world and makes it easier for the audience to get caught up in the narrative. Indeed, constructing the film completely from the aforementioned shaky-cam recordings would have given the film a sterile feel, like being forced to watch somebody’s boring home movies. Happily, that is not the case here.

The film’s two leads do a great job of portraying a couple facing the unknown, with the realistic reactions of people who might find themselves in such a situation and not the mind-bendingly stupid behavior exhibited by characters in those big budgeted flops Hollywood passes off as horror these days. However, the film’s true star, which director Amanda Gusack captures perfectly on film, is the atmosphere. The slowly building feeling of dread that permeates the story is only a part of it. The excellent use of implication through the use of shadowy movement, strange sounds and the unease of what may lie just beyond a closed door really adds to the creepiness factor and is only eclipsed by the instances when the film does show you something, albeit only for a brief second or two. Those fleeting glimpses of the otherworldly figure haunting the young couple, while reminiscent of imported fare from across the Pacific are no less frightening in their subdued yet chilling presentation. Simply put, this film is creepier than anything put out by Hollywood this year.

At seventy-three minutes, the film is long enough to adequately explore it’s small cast of characters and supply it’s fair share of scary moments without straining the audience’s patience. This would make the perfect film to watch when huddled in bed with your significant other, buried under the blankets with the lights out. Afterwards, sleep might not come too easy and any small sound would be guaranteed to induce a pounding of the heart. With results like that, this film must be categorized as a top-notch effort in low budget horror.

To learn more about the film be sure to visit the official website at http://www.inmemoriumthemovie.com.