Wednesday, August 25, 2010

'Deadly Memories' is worth forgetting

Deadly Memories (aka "Body Shop") (2002)
Starring: Phillip Newman, Rachel Robbins, L.P. Brown III, William Smith, and Robert Z'Dar
Director: Donald Farmer
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

Small-town body shop owner Art Gary (Newman) is still trying to piece his life together two years after the accident that killed his wife and left his daughter comatose when a neighbor (Z'Dar) manages to identify the teenagers who caused the accident with their reckless driving. They start dying under mysterious circumstances and all signs point to Art having snapped. But is there more to the story?

"Deadly Memories" is a so-so thriller that's done in by an unfocused, meandering plot and characters that are almost too real in the way they're written and acted. They are so real that they will remind you of your own mechanic, or maybe your Uncle Bob, or your next door neighbor. In other words, they're boring. (And at the opposite end of the realism scale, the murder victims are so completely and totally obnoxious that you'll want to reward the killer for putting them out of our misery.)

The best thing about the film is that it provides enough suspects and sheds enough doubt on who the killer might be that it's an open question until he is revealed. However, this bit of quality is itself undermined by an ending that starts out weak and which is underminded further a desire on the part of the filmmakers to make sure this film included all the elements we've come to expect from a slasher film. (The overlong, completely gratuitous shower scene with Tina Krause's naked body being shown in loving detail I can forgive, but the lame attempt at a surprise shock return of the killer I can't. Especially not when it's as badly done as it is here.)

I do give the film good marks for actually offering an upbeat ending--there are entirely too few of those on horror movies these days--and I think that Phillip Newman gave a decent performance as the body shop owner who may or may not be a psycho killer. It's a shame that this seems to have been his last movie.

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