“Memory,” review by Susan Granger

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If your memories aren’t your own, then whose are they? That’s the dilemma faced by a neuroscientist in this mind-bending psychological thriller.

While lecturing on memory disorders in Brazil, Dr. Taylor Briggs (Billy Zane) is summoned to a local hospital to examine a dying patient who exhibits weird and baffling symptoms. But when Briggs’ protective rubber glove rips, he’s accidentally exposed to a mysterious substance, a reddish powder from the Amazon rain forest. Soon after, Briggs begins experiencing strange, horrific flashbacks; it’s as though he’s suddenly accessed the mind of a demented serial killer who preys on young girls and makes plaster casts of their faces.

As the threads of the pulpy plot unravel, it becomes clear that the powder, a reportedly benign extract from the pineal gland, seems to unleash ancestral memories. But whose memories has Briggs tapped into? All the he can discern is a shadowy figure. Could it be his dead father? Or even his comatose mother, who is afflicted with Alzheimer’s?

To help clarify this dilemma, he turns to a sexy artist girlfriend (Tricia Helfer from “Battlestar Galactica”), his surrogate father Max Lichtenstein (Dennis Hopper) and his mother’s best friend, art gallery owner Carol Hargrave (Ann-Margret).

The taut, supernatural screenplay was written by Bennett Davlin and Anthony Badalucco, based on Davlin’s novel which asserts that 93% of our DNA has yet to be explained. Making his directing debut, Davlin explains that “all the science you see in this motion picture is cutting edge.” Perhaps. But his story is filled with red herrings, his helming is clumsy, and Billy Zane’s intense demeanor is distractingly artificial, despite the efforts of Dennis Hopper and Ann-Margret. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Memory” is a bizarre 5, a haunting hallucination.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.