Lavender (2017)

Jane loses her memory in an accident and her therapist suggests she should go to her childhood home to try and reconnect the dots.  As she goes back to find herself, she discovers much more.  Her past and its ghosts are not all what one would want to remember.

Written by Colin Frizzell and Ed Gass-Donnelly with the latter directing, Lavender is a mellow movie in terms of potential ghost stories.  The creepiness inherent to old houses, the ghosts of the past, memory loss, and finding out what happened to her as a child are all wrapped into the possibility of a haunting which adds some fear but not all that much as most of the ghosts or memories are sadder than scary.  This does not mean that the film is bad or not interesting.  It’s just not quite the ghost story that the poster may bring up in the mind of horror fans.  This film is more about the horrors of the past, how one protects themselves from memories that could seriously damage them, and how finding these memories again could be seriously problematic.  The film being listed as a drama/thriller online further pushes the idea that it may very well be about ghosts of the past and not literal ghosts.  The film however has scenes that leave this up to the viewer’s interpretation in some ways.  Depending which of these each viewer goes for and which they prefer may influence the enjoyment of the story.  Lavender may be one of those films better when left up to each person watching it to make up their minds and not give them too much information in terms of what happens in the story and what scenes to look for.  This may sound like a cop-out but it’s the best way to enjoy this one.

The cast of Lavender does quite well with most of the film resting on lead Abbie Cornish as Jane.  Her confusion works wonders here.  She gives nuances of lost little girl, confuse adult, worried mother, and scared memory loss patient.  She is easy to watch go through this and to connect with in terms of her struggles.  She has a few issues that are a bit annoying in terms of attitude but they go away fast once she reaches her childhood home with her husband and daughter.  The rest of the cast has a lot less screen time and impact here.  Some of them turn in some seriously bland performances with Dermot Mulroney playing a character that has more to him than he seems at first.  Unfortunately, he does not get a lot of time to develop his character to give him more of an impact.

As the lead in Lavender is a photographer, the visuals are important.  The photos she takes are interesting but not extraordinary.  The looks of the films is simple and takes full advantage of the countryside and its color palette.  The cinematography by Brendan Steacy has some really interesting shots here and there in the movie and uses the countryside settings well, it’s just not as great as one would expect in a film about a photographer.  Her point of view, if nothing else, should be about visual details.  The film looks good and uses the widescreen in a nice way, but it feels like it could have been so much more visually.  Still, some of the scenes are stunning.

The film has some special effects that add some interested visually.  These are few and well done, with the blood effects being good.  The film is definitely not putting much emphasis on these, which works for the story and the questioning of whether or not we are dealing with ghosts here.

Lavender is a decent, but definitely not scary film.  If taken as a drama more than anything, it works and is a decent watch.  If one goes in wanting a full blown ghost story with scares aplenty, this is not the film for them.  There are a few surprises, some blood, and some serious nastiness implied, but it’s a film more for fans of drama or very mild scares.  That being said, that’s fine and good if the viewer goes in knowing and just wanting to see a mystery unfold with not all of its questions being answered.