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cast: Ally Sheedy, John Savage, Sally Kirkland, Nicholas Walker, and Dara Tomanovich

director: Kurt Voss

84 minutes (18) 1996
Black Horse / Dream DVD Region 0 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Christopher Geary
Paul (Nicholas Walker) is a supposedly upstanding minister of the small town, Hollow Lake. Paul is married to Martha (Ally Sheedy) and father of a young boy, and as a minister he's a pillar of the community and all that. Secretly, however, Paul's having a torrid affair with local schoolteacher Veronica (sultry Dana Tomanovich in her film debut), meeting her at the Lakeshore Motel run by the desperately lonely romantic Charlene (Sally Kirkland). Together, Paul and Veronica hatch a plot to fake his death, so that he can escape from his moribund family life, knowing that the big payoff from his insurance policy will provide financial comfort to his 'widow' and abandoned son.

Of course, the bogus 'suicide' fails to convince insurance investigator Tim (John Savage), a boozy womaniser, eagerly propositioning the 'bereaved' Martha after her missing-presumed-dead husband's funeral. Adding a twist to, and muddying up, the otherwise straightforward plot is the fact of Paul's disconcerting amnesia caused by his 'accident' and so the insurance scam becomes a 'kidnap' mystery-thriller and weirdly noir-ish romance, that descends into tragic farce when Motel owner Charlene decides to keep Paul hostage and trick him into being her lover...

Ensuring this offbeat combo of Fatal Attraction and Misery has appeal for fans of cult movies, there are some lingering moments of intrigue between Martha (should she accept the insurance money or try to find out what's really happened to her errant husband Paul?) and Tim (will he get Martha into bed, or simply get his comeuppance?), and the suspense of waiting for the mentally vacant Paul to recover his memory. Although Amnesia is a rough hewn production, hacked out of plainly familiar subgenre materials and stuck with the twin bedevilments of an uneven pacing and a lacklustre supporting cast, director Kurt Voss pulls off some wonderful, blackly comic scenes (especially in the climactic shootout with all the fury of a woman scored) and the performances of Sheedy, Savage, and Kirkland are either understated or intentionally hysterical to the point of lunacy.

There are no disc extras, but I was bemused to note how the packaging for this DVD has the wrong set of credits (for The Pavilion, starring Craig Sheffer and Patsy Kensit) printed on the sleeve.

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