Director: Shawn Holmes (2011)
Starring: Michael Guy Allen, Meg Barrick, Julian Curi
It's a low budget version of The Butterfly Effect crossed with Flatliners crossed with that bit of Constantine where Keanu Reeves drownes Rachel Weisz in a bathtub. Ex-soldier Nick (Allen) vows to avenge the death of girlfriend Kayla (Barrick) when he finds her dead. Also in a bathtub. Bathtubs are very important to Memory Lane. Costing a mere $300 to make, Memory Lane is as independent as cinema gets - but is far better than that low budget might suggest.
Returning home from the wars, soldier Nick meets and falls for Kayla, who handcuffs herself to him and steals his car the next day. Faced with such a catch, Nick is instantly smitten, and asks her to marry him, despite not even knowing her surname. Heartbreak and even more confusion is in store when Nick finds her dead in the bath, wrists slashed. When he attempts to take his own life as a result (again, in the bath) Nick visits a magical memory afterlife where he can relive past encounters with dear dead Kayla. There he learns that her death might not have been as self-inflicted as one would think. Upon his friends finding and resuscitating his lifeless body, Nick vows to piece together the clues and solve the mystery of Kayla's death. The problem being that he needs to repeatedly die in order to do so.
With a little help from his friends, Nick builds a bathtub TARDIS which he uses to kill himself. Again. And 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? Surely the after-effects of repeatedly stopping one's own heart can't be too pleasant. That recurring nosebleed would suggest as much. 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 and he married Demi Moore.
For a movie that cost $300 to make, Memory Lane is nothing short of astonishing. It surpasses the limitations of its (ultra) low budget with good old fashioned writing and storytelling. It's a bit on the melodramatic side and the acting won't win any Oscars, but the story is gripping and the pace taut. Unlike most low budget thrillers, Memory Lane has ambition and heart - and times, more than the very moves which inspired it. It's refreshing to see an independent movie that's not about zombies or serial killers.
Memory Lane puts paid to the argument that a movie needs a large budget and expensive special effects in order to succeed. This is one Lane well worth visiting.