Director: Kit Ryan
Cast: Kal Penn, Vincent Regan, Geoff Bell, John Thomson
Watch Dementamania online in the UK: TalkTalk TV / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Eircom / TalkTalk / EE / Virgin Movies / Google Play / TheHorrorShow.tv
What makes a good horror movie? A smart story? Creepy visuals? Emotional engagement? Blood? Dementamania has half of those – but it has them by the bucketload.
Sam Robertson plays Edward Arkham, your typical worker in an everyday dead-end job, who gets stung by your average demonic wasp… and starts to see a lot of weird stuff. You know, as you do.
That’s Dementamania’s main problem. The idea of a loner going crazy is nothing new for horror fans, so the film has to put in extra leg work to make the premise tingle your spine.
It sets out the mundane office environment with a likably sardonic air: the company CEO is oddly enthusiastic, while Marc Parry’s co-worker, Silas, is a deceitful douche. Even Ed’s colleagues, who fall into the stereotypes of nerdy (Anthony Cozens) and sex-mad (Robert van Twillert), are believable. But when a sinister, besuited fellow starts appearing on the top floor, called Nicholas Le Marchand (Vincent Regan), dropping hints and enigmatic secrets, that generic streak starts to infect the whole production.
Sure enough, bizarre things start to fill the screen, some understated – bodies jumping out of windows – some predictable – visions of sexy, female co-workers – and others repetitive. There’s even a token trip to a nightclub and an ex-girlfriend who cheated on our protagonist.
But before you can dismiss the movie’s more formulaic elements, all those visions get under your skin, as director Kit Ryan gets to work. Boy, does he get to work. The filmmaker more than justifies the film’s 18 certificate, impaling people with hooks and, in one brilliant moment, chopping someone’s head in half with a clipboard. Ryan has a worrying knack for finding the most psychotic use for everyday objects – and Robertson throws himself into the daydream-like sequences with a manic grin.
Things escalate to creepy levels of nastiness, as the rapid editing and tight runtime build up an intense atmosphere that climaxes in an elevator ride that gets too hot for comfort. If these flashes of vibrant horror stand out a little too much from the rest of the script, that’s no terrible thing: for all of its flaws, this is a genuinely unsettling calling card from a promising director. What makes a good horror movie? Dementamania may not have the smartest story or the most engaging characters, but what it does have is twisted, disturbing imagination – and it has it by the bucketload.