Empty"Memory" is a muddled and routine murder mystery tricked up with a science fiction gimmick that wouldn't pass muster for a "Twilight Zone" episode. The writing is poor, but the direction is even poorer. This is a film to delete from one's memory bank. Boxoffice will be equally as dismal despite the presence of Billy Zane, Dennis Hopper and Ann-Margret.
Zane stiffly plays a medical research scientist who gets a bit of strange powder on his fingertip while examining a dying man in Brazil. The powder contains Amazon Indian magic that forces him to see the memories of his parent, in this case apparently those of the father, who died before he was born. These take the form of jolting flashbacks where he goes into an unconscious seizure. He then finds himself floundering around in a mountain forest in the dead of night where kidnapped little girls are in terrible jeopardy and a figure in a mask and overcoat flees from him.
He returns to his New England home, where his mom suffers from Alzheimer's so is no help to him. Her two best friends, played by Hopper and Ann-Margret, are surprisingly unhelpful, but Zane never wonders about this. He hooks up with his love interest (Tricia Helfer), an artist who has painted a portrait of the exact figure he sees in his memory/dreams, but he never wonders about this either. Internet research confirms that all the girls he sees were indeed kidnapped and killed back in 1971, the year of his birth and his father's death.
Every moment of the film is preposterous. The best comes when Zane goes to the mountains he sees in his dreams, discovers a lake where a meadow exists in the dream, then goes to his trunk and pulls out scuba diving gear. Doesn't everyone carry diving gear in the car?
Both the writing and direction are awkward. The script by Bennett Davlin and Anthony Badalucco (based on Davlin's recently published novel) contains scenes that carry little meaning or plot advancement. Worse, Davlin, who also directs, stages many scenes clumsily, apparently having difficulty knowing when to start and end a scene. The awkwardness sometimes extends to the camera work. When Zane does a few push-ups, the camera goes up and down to capture his point of view.
Otherwise, tech credits are passable.
Echo Bridge Entertainment
3210 Films/Paradox Pictures/Badalucco Prods.
Director: Bennett Davlin
Screenwriters: Bennett Davlin, Anthony Badalucco
Based on the novel by: Bennett Davlin
Producers: Bennett Davlin, Jessie Newhouse, Anthony Badalucco
Executive producers: Robert J. Monroe, Brandon K. Hogan
Director of photography: Peter Benison
Production designer: Stephen Geaghan
Music: Clint Bennett, Anthony Marinelli
Costume designer: Karen L. Matthews
Editor: Allison Grace
Taylor Briggs: Billy Zane
Max Lichtenstein: Dennis Hopper
Carol Hargrave: Ann-Margret
Stephanie Jacobs: Tricia Helfer
Deepra Chang: Terry Chen
Running time -- 95 minutes
MPAA rating: R