At the start of the mystery-drama “Don’t Go,” struggling married couple Ben and Hazel Slater (played by Stephen Dorff and Melissa George) channel their grief over their young daughter’s accidental death into refurbishing an Irish seaside hotel. But the ocean view reminds Ben of one of the last happy days they all spent together, with memories so vivid that it almost feels like he could step inside them — and maybe even change the past.
The idea of human memory as a kind of time machine is powerful, and writer-director David Gleeson and his co-writer Ronan Blaney make it pay it off well in their movie’s final 10 minutes. It’s the preceding 80 that are the problem.
While Dorff and George are fine actors, the Slaters are stock characters. The movie trickles out details about their broken lives, each one more maudlin and old hat than the last: a stalled writing career, a tawdry affair, a tragic moment of neglect, and so on.
The film’s beachfront locations are beautiful, and “Don’t Go” has some memorable supporting performances, including Simon Delaney as a libertine priest at the Catholic school where Ben teaches.
It’s admirable to try to make a movie about time travel and ghostly visitations that can’t really be classified as horror or science-fiction. But too much of “Don’t Go” is dry and dour, lacking the pop that some good genre elements could bring. This picture needs less moping and more spooking.
Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Playing: Starts Oct. 26, Arena Cinelounge Sunset, Hollywood