Memory Lane Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Monster Pictures UK
Written and Directed by Shawn Holmes
2011, 70 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 10th March 2014
Michael Guy Allen
It's a low-budget Butterfly Effect crossed with that bit of Constantine where Keanu Reeves drowns Rachel Weisz in a bathtub. After his fiancé is killed under suspicious circumstances, a troubled ex-soldier revisits old memories in an effort to find out what happened and avenge her death. Costing only $300 to make, Shawn Holmes' Memory Lane is as independent as cinema gets - but is much better than its low budget might suggest.
Returning home after his tour of duty, soldier Nick meets and falls for the mysterious Kayla, who handcuffs herself to him and steals his car the next day. Smitten Nick asks her to marry him, despite not even knowing her surname. Heartbreak and even more confusion is in store when he finds her dead in the bath, wrists slashed. When Nick attempts to take his own life as a result, he sees her again in the form of old memories, his life literally flashing before his eyes in an incredibly detailed way. Kayla's death, Nick learns, might not have been suicide. Upon his friends finding and resuscitating his body, Nick realises that he can solve the mystery of Kayla's death by visiting her in his memory afterlife. The problem being that he needs to repeatedly die in order to get any crime solving done.
With the help of a stolen heart rate monitor, some good friends, a bathtub full of ice, lightbulbs and some electricity, Nick sets about killing himself. Again. And again. And again, revisiting past events to look for signs he might not have noticed before. Can he piece together the clues to find Kayla's killer before he kills himself one time too many? And surely the after-effects of repeatedly stopping one's own heart can't be too pleasant? That recurring nosebleed would suggest otherwise. If we learned nothing else from The Butterfly Effect, it's that screwing around in one's own memories causes a nasty hangover. In Ashton Kutcher's case; that bit where all his arms and legs got blown up. In its building of a machine to repeatedly stop Nick's heart, Memory Lane is reminiscent of Joel Schumacher's Flatliners. The machine looks brilliant, the film's low budget lending it a sense of DIY believability.
For a movie that cost less than $300 to make, Memory Lane is astonishing. It puts paid to any argument that a film needs a big budget in order to succeed, instead using good old fashioned storytelling and talent to get by. The actors won't win any Oscars and there aren't any special effects (aside from a little blood and the DIY bathtub TARDIS) but the story is gripping, the pace taut and the direction outstanding. It acknowledges its limits enough to not be hamstrung by them. The story even manages to travel to a war-torn country without seeming jarring or silly. It's refreshing to watch an independent movie that's not about zombies or serial killers; one that's not afraid to have a little ambition. The story is gripping, intelligent and full of heart; at times, even more so than the movies which inspired it. And at a brisk 70 minutes, it doesn't outstay its welcome.
Memory Lane is a remarkable piece of cinema. This is one Lane well worth travelling down.