A film that effectively delivers unique concepts in the quickly-tiring found footage format. One cannot help but immediately draw comparisons to Paranormal Activity on a surface level. Indeed, it’s about a couple living in a house with cameras capturing bizarre supernatural events. However, that’s where PA ends and In Memorium ’s plot begins. Recently diagnosed with cancer and given a couple months to live, Dennis, a filmmaker, and his devoted actress girlfriend, Lilly, decide to document their last days together with dozens of cameras and microphones wired throughout their rented house. It doesn’t take long before the cameras capture something unexplainable in the house. Is it the ghost of the home’s previous tenant? Or is it a manifestation of his impending death? The conclusion is genuinely surprising and wholly original.
The plot details themselves are what make In Memorium more interesting than your average found footage film. That said, I still wish the film explored the possibilities more. Given a unique premise and a short run time, there was definitely room to go all philosophical on us. Although I would have appreciated even more complexity in the story, I must say that I was never bored when watching this film. That is rare for a found footage movie. Whether it be Blair Witch or even Cloverfield, boredom is typically a necessary evil to gain authenticity. Having the immense variety of camera angles (detached from the hands of the actors) made the film move faster and freed the actors up to actually act as if there wasn’t a camera in the room.
This brings me to the topic of characters. In Memorium ’s cast is likeable and multidimensional. However, at times I felt like the characterization was being thrust upon us. Lilly and Denny's broish brother, Frank, provoke fights with each other for little to no reason. Some of the early scenes’ performances felt forced and showy. As the events unfolded, however, these faults began to disappear. When it mattered most, the actors were great and I was completely connected to the characters.
Now, the question everyone has been waiting for. Is In Memorium scary? At times, it is, but overall, I didn’t lose any sleep. It didn’t begin to compare to Blair Witch and PA’s scales of creepiness. Still, it succeeds in areas where these films failed. I would compare the movie to The Last Exorcism, where the film wasn’t all about the scares, but more about the characters unraveling the mystery of the situation. That’s not to say there are not some well-executed jumps and a superb tone of dread throughout the film.
This brings me to my next topic: the medium itself. A question kept re-entering my mind as I watched the film (and this is one I ask every film of this type): Would the film be more effective if it was shot in a traditional cinematic way? I still don’t know the answer to this question for In Memorium. There are so many cameras placed in non-security-camera-style angles that you wonder, why shoot with the limitation of found footage at all? Maybe it was cheaper for the filmmakers, but I’m not entirely convinced that this is the case. Despite all this, there is something to be said about the intangible creepy quality of found footage. Somewhere in the high angles and digital video characteristics, there is a voyeuristic element that tugs at us. In Memorium is effective in its existing medium, but my question still remains unanswered in my mind.
Clever, creepy, and engaging, In Memorium delivers. I may have minor quibbles here and there, but minor they are. A solid effort that doesn’t leave the viewer disappointed. For more information on In Memorium, check out the official site.