On its most basic level, Memory Box is a stylish and thought-provoking sci-fi short, but it’s given added meaning when you learn that co-director Aaron Aites passed away between the film’s production and its premiere in September 2016. The short bears little relation to Aites’ death, but it does offer an interesting perspective on dealing with trauma.
The unsettling, Black Mirror-esque scenario sees a man at his laptop paying two actors/sex workers played by Mackenzie Davis (Black Mirror) and Louis Cancelmi (Boardwalk Empire) to act out some of his memories. The difference between Memory Box and its more dystopian cousin is that the man isn’t just looking for cheap thrills online, he’s trying to get around a recent accident that’s left him wheelchair-bound.
The greatest quality of co-director and writer Audrey Ewell’s script is how it refrains from making moral judgments on any of these characters, instead offering sympathy and understanding of the circumstances they find themselves in. This tightrope is walked perfectly by Mackenzie Davis as she slips in and out of the various performances she has to offer in her daily life, always pushing down her real emotions.
Cult sci-fi director Shane Carruth also features as her husband, a fitting appearance considering Aites’ and Ewell’s detached, intellectual direction and the short’s smart premise share traits with his own work. It’s a timely reminder that not only is Carruth a great director, but a talented actor, even though he only adopted the craft on his debut Primer out of necessity.
Praise must also be given to Memory Box’s cinematographer Eric Lin and its composer Tim Hecker, who help to realise the short’s eerie atmosphere. Memory Box was intended as proof-of-concept for a feature, and on the basis of Aites’ and Ewell’s superb direction it deserves the chance to make it.
You can visit Memory Box’s Indiegogo page below to help director Audrey Ewell finish and distribute the film to as wide an audience as possible.
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CAST: Mackenzie Davis, Shane Carruth, Louis Cancelmi, K. K. Moggie
DIRECTORS: Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell
WRITER: Audrey Ewell
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Eric Lin
COMPOSER: Tim Hecker
SYNOPSIS: A young mother works at a memory-recreation facility. When a client pushes her to break the rules, she’s forced to decide how far she’s willing to go. Dreams and fantasy become entangled with memory as power shifts hands.