In Memorium

500 Days Of Film Reviews Found-Footage Horror, In Memorium

 

After a terminal diagnosis, filmmaker Dennis Wade (Erik McDowell) decides to rent a house with his girlfriend and document his final days. 

 

However, soon after the couple move in, Dennis’ cameras capture a chilling, supernatural presence in the house.

 

Is It Any Good?

Post Blair Witch, it seemed as if every horror movie was based on a found footage premise. So much so that, today, the mere mention of the term provokes some serious eye rolling.

 

However, back in 1999 when The Blair Witch Project terrified audiences (and years before the start of the Paranormal Activity franchise), found footage was an exciting new concept for filmmakers. It certainly inspired writer/director, Amanda Gusack, who, in 2005, released her micro-budget horror movie, In Memorium.

 

Over a decade after its release, Gusack’s film is now available to watch via Amazon Prime Video.

 

Unlike many found footage horror movies, In Memorium has a solid concept behind Dennis’ use of multiple cameras. First, he is a filmmaker and, second, he needs something to take his mind off his terminal diagnosis. 

 

As a result, we can’t help but sympathise with Dennis and his girlfriend, Lily (Johanna Watts). They are an engaging couple and we care about them both. Of course, it is not long before Dennis’ cameras pick up something sinister - and their nightmare truly begins.

 

  

Gusack creates great tension in her film. In Memorium has a genuinely creepy and unsettling atmosphere and features some effective jump scares. This is especially impressive given the obvious confines of the movie's micro-budget.    

 

Building tension in a horror movie is no easy task. I asked Gusack how she approached this challenge in her film. She explained that, while she studied film at school, she gets most of her inspiration from the "darkest corners of my own fears. If you close you eyes and reflect, you can see how the scares creep in. 

 

“I think listening to yourself, your fears, etc is better than any film school. And in addition to informing an art form, it informs you in how you move through your own life, if you're willing to look at it.”

 

 

In Memorium features a small cast. Some scenes betray the film’s budgetary constraints, however, the performances are compelling where it counts.

 

While Erik McDowell is great as Dennis, Johanna Watts steals every scene as Lily. Hers is such a powerful portrayal - formidable and vulnerable in equal measure. “Erik and Johanna really wowed us,” Gusack recalls. “Johanna was superb - she still impresses me.” 

 

With the release this month of Blair Witch, the sequel to The Blair Witch Project, it feels like a good time to watch In Memorium. It may be over a decade old but Amanda Gusack’s movie still feels fresh and offers more unsettling scares than many big budget horror movies. 

 

Random Observations

In Memorium is available to watch on Amazon Video thanks to the company’s new Amazon Video Direct initiative. This service allows companies and individuals to upload movies to Amazon. Sound like YouTube? Well yes and no. Amazon Video Direct is limited to professional video creators.

 

Gusack welcomes such developments in film distribution: “Film-making consists of so many steps, writing to production to distribution, each of which requires a huge amount of patience and perseverance. Distribution options are much more plentiful now than when In Memorium was made. Now there are an abundance of streaming options to self-release.”

 

Gusack directed 2008 crime drama, The Betrayed, starring Melissa George, Oded Fehr and Christian Campbell. She has also been working on a number of scripts. 

 

Have you seen In Memorium?

 

If so, what did you think of this found footage horror? Let me know by leaving me a comment in the box below.

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