In a creepy, surreal thriller directed by Michael Polish (Astronaut Farmer, 90 Minutes From Heaven), a man awakens after a car accident to find himself without memories and locked in a house by a woman who demands he provide her with a child. Wes Bentley (Hunger Games, Interstellar) plays “Man” and Kate Bosworth (Still Alice, Home Front) plays “Woman,” his would-be wife, in a film that plays with memories and ideals, while terrorizing us at the same time.
Bosworth is completely outside of ‘type’ here, portraying the creepiest character to grace (is that even the right word?) an amnesiac movie, or even a hostage-type movie (Misery, anyone?) that we’ve seen in some time. At first, we’re not sure what to make of her dripping, creepy whispers, or the way we assume that the house must be set in some kind of retrofitted state. We spend a good part of the film figuring that Man could be imprisoned in some place where no one would ever find him, like the wilderness. Slowly, however, we’re let in on some pieces of the puzzle, yet not enough to make much sense of his situation.
What we can clearly understand is that Woman is crazy – not just delusional, but homicidal and twisted in a way that will make you want to scream. The piano music and the otherwise muted tones of the backgrounds accentuate the creepy factor of Bosworth’s nut job of a character. Somehow we are aware that things can’t quite be what they appear, but we don’t quite know what we’re watching.
If you mixed in Memento with a batch of Before I Go To Sleep, you’d get Amnesiac. It’s significantly less complicated than the first, and better nuanced than the second, but the end result is justifiably watchable. It helps that “Man” is our viewpoint into “Woman’s” world, but he doesn’t know who or what she is. Furthermore, that raises several issues that make bigger questions about the universe come into play, like …
Who tells us what the truth is?
What does our ‘blank slate’ of who we are start with?
What makes us who we are or provides us with the identity that holds us together and drives us forward?
It seems like there’s often plenty of room for figuring out who we are, but most of us are quick to let other people make the decisions for us. For example, we might decide we’ll listen to, say, the Biblical scriptures of Genesis, that are held valuable by the Christians and the Jews – we’re made in the image of God and spirit is breathed into us. Or we might allow ourselves to be drawn in by the media, the self-help books, or … whatever. What do we decide is true and who guides us to that truth?
That’s the big question of Amnesiac, wrapped up in a disturbing little horror tale that just might blow your mind in the process.