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MEMORY LANE (2013)
Published by David Carter on 2015/10/18 (525 reads)
Directed by Shawn Holmes
Review by David Carter
Released by Wild Eye Releasing
Running Time: 70 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Color format: Color
Audio/Subtitles: 2.0 Stereo English
Region Code: 1, NTSC
Aspect Ratio: Widescreen
16:9 Enhanced: Yes
Special Features: Commentary, deleted scenes, shorts, screen tests
Trailer Online: Yes
The Vietnam War found its way to movie screens in a variety of ways. The 1980s saw a spate of films like PLATOON and BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY that radically broke with the typical celebratory nature of war films to show a more realistic and often critical assessment of the conflict. Earlier than that, however, the echoes of the Vietnam War were most readily seen in horror and exploitation cinema. Films like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and FORCED ENTRY synthesized the horrors of war into supernatural horrors, or in the case of the latter, the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is no longer taboo to criticize war or to show the effects of PTSD, so many mainstream films have taken on the topics with related to our current conflicts. More intriguing voices can still be found outside the mainstream, as evidenced by Shawn Holmes’ MEMORY LANE. Holmes takes the topic of PTSD to interesting and bizarre places in the film, now available on DVD from Wild Eye Releasing.
Nick Boxer returns from Afghanistan permanently changed by the experience. He struggles to get back to a normal life and finds happiness when he meets the anything-but-normal Kayla. Nick stops Kayla from jumping off a bridge – failing to notice it looks like she’s already tried it once – and the pair begin a torrid but somewhat dysfunctional relationship. Kayla won’t tell Nick her last name, but he’s so in love with her that he disregards that and her other bizarre behavior, eventually buying a house for them to live together. Nick plans to marry Kayla, but tragically finds her with her wrists slit when he returns home with the ring.
A despondent Nick tries to kill himself by bathtub electrocution but survives. More amazing than his survival is what he claims to have seen during the experience: Nick claims that he had very vivid flashbacks of his relationship with Kayla that makes him believe she was murdered. Nick and his friends devise a suicide machine so that they can kill Nick for brief periods to allow him to solve Kayla’s murder. Nick’s plan to find Kayla’s killer could mean losing his own life; a risk he’s prepared to take to be reunited with her.
MEMORY LANE follows in the footsteps of other memory-based films like MEMENTO – from which it borrows its non-chronological structure – and the cult classic JACOB’S LADDER. It is the latter to which MEMORY LANE owes its greatest debt, but it takes that inspiration in a much different direction; replacing the supernatural trappings of LADDER with a much more sci-fi bent here. Look all good sci-fi, MEMORY LANE straddles the line between plausible and implausible which prevents the details of Nick’s time-travel from bogging down the narrative. The film’s true strength lies in the performances delivered by its two leads, both of whom are relatable and vulnerable in a way rarely seen in independent cinema.
Wild Eye Releasing adds MEMORY LANE to a catalog filled with mostly horror and, to the film’s credit, it has a broad appeal that will intrigue horror fans as much as it will to more dramatically inclined viewers. Bonus features on the disc include a commentary track, deleted scenes, and my favorite extra which rarely gets included on DVDs, the screen tests. Pardon the pun, but MEMORY LANE is one of the more memorable independent films in recent years. Its strength lies in its unique plot and strong performances, both of which will have you recommending this one to others soon after it finishes.
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