Synopsis: The story of a man who wakes up in bed suffering from memory loss after being in an accident, only to begin to suspect that his wife may not be his real wife and that a web of lies and deceit deepen inside the house where he soon finds himself a prisoner
Release Date: August 14, 2015 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Drama, Horror
The central protagonist in Amnesiac is a man, played by Wes Bentley (The Hunger Games), who is only identified in the credits as “man.” This actually helps the audience identify with him because he is, in fact, the Amnesiac that is referenced in the title of the movie, left without any memory of his identity or past after a horrible car accident. He is taken care of by a woman (known as, yep, “woman,” and portrayed by Still Alice‘s Kate Bosworth) who he can only assume is his wife. He is completely dependent on her, but as time goes on and events start to unfold, the man begins to suspect that the woman is not who she claims to be, and that her motives with him are not entirely benevolent.
There’s something all too familiar about Amnesiac, and it’s not because Before I Go to Sleep, a far better movie about memory loss, was so recently released. The movie was directed by Michael Polish (The Astronaut Farmer) from a screenplay by Amy Kolquist (Border Run) and Mike Le (Dark Summer), but it really feels like another movie that was directed by Rob Reiner from a Stephen King novel. Yeah, it’s like Misery. A lot like Misery. Only not even close to as good. It’s like the Asylum rip-off of Misery. It should have been called Missy, or Mercy, or Mercenary.
It’s hard to take Amnesiac seriously. On one hand, it’s a decent enough mystery that really challenges the viewer to figure out what is going on. On the other, it’s strangely campy, but the viewer is never sure if the effect is intentional or not. Kate Bosworth’s performance is either comedically brilliant or laughingly bad; she’s stiff as a board as she stoically delivers her on-the-nose dialogue and emotionless expressions. Furthermore, Amnesiac features the most apathetic cops in recent cinematic memory, played by career-cop actor Shashawnee Hall and television character actress Mia Barron; all they do is sit around their desks and drink coffee, talking about solving their cases but never actually doing any detective or police work (an example of an actual line of dialogue spoken by Hall’s character, of course known only as “detective” – “I am up out of my chair, this had better be important”). It’s the kind of stuff that makes the viewer wonder if the movie is for real or not.
Amnesiac is kind of a mess of a movie – it lacks focus, not knowing whether it’s a farce or not. It would be a great drinking game movie, or perhaps a midnight cult film, but that’s about the extent of its usefulness.
Amnesiac is full of scary potential, but that potential gets lost in the muddle of the movie. There are a number of cringe-worthy medical scenes that could get under the viewer’s skin and make them squeamish, a few gems like a shock treatment scene, a cauterization scene, and a nifty icepick lobotomy scene, but they are set up so poorly that they’re not scary at all. The ending could even be considered shocking if it was executed properly – it could have been a seatbelt moment, instead it’s barely a speedbump. Basically, Amnesiac was scarier in 1990 when it was called Misery, but there’s no hobbling scene, and Kate Bosworth is no Kathy Bates.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Michael Polish
- Producer(s): Richard HalpernLucas JarachJason Price
- Screenwriter(s): Amy KolquistMike Le
- Cast: Kate BosworthWes BentleyOlivia Rose Keegan Shashawnee HallRichard RiehlePatrick BauchauMia Barron
- Editor(s): Timothy Alverson
- Cinematographer: Jayson Crothers
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer: Lynette Meyer
- Casting Director(s): Lee BrodaMark Tillman
- Music Score: Aleks de Carvalho
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA