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Dementer (2021)

Dementer takes the watcher on a different path from the usual types of horror films. Actually, I’d describe it best as a psychological thriller on LSD. Directed by Chad Crawford Kinkle, Dementer revolves around Katie (played by Katie Groshong) who has managed to escape from a religious cult and is trying to start some semblance of a new life, whilst on the run and living out her car.

Fortunately, Katie is given a role working in a home for people with learning needs; however, her past hasn’t let her escape and she suffers from persistent flashbacks and believes that Stephanie (played by Stephanie Kinkle) one of the women she’s helping to care for is under threat from sinister forces and we watch as Katie tries to save her.

This is not a big budget film, something that is obvious, but the director uses clever scenes and tricks to add in where cash could not. The opening scenes consist of hand drawings as opposed to fancy computer graphics, or expensive artwork, but they add to the overall suspense.

What makes this a film that steps beyond others is the relatively mundane ongoings of the staff and residents. It is accurate and portrayed as such, something most films struggle to do. There is a normalcy, almost documentary style feel within the home, day to day tasks being carried out by the female lead, always caring and polite, considerate and with the interest of her those she cares for in full sight. Then the normality is broken with flashes of darkness and shocking sights, vocals and the ‘oh so trying too hard to consistently be deeply chilling’ soundtrack.

The captured realism, makes the added surrealism intensely more defined. But there are touches that are too forced, too over done. The evil male vocal has too much echo, and is often not required; the soundtrack feels both under and overwhelming-it doesn’t feel ‘right’, always out of phase with the the film as if it has been copied from a bad 1970’s psychological thriller and pasted here. But I’m willing to give the makers the benefit of the doubt as it could be exactly their intended vision.

Verdict: 6/10. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. Is it bad? Absolutely not. In my opinion Dementer is a show reel of what those who were involved in its creation are capable of. The main performances are solid, the storyline is mostly solid, but sometimes strays and meanders off in an unsatisfying direction.

Art has many forms and to judge it by mainstream criteria may be doing Dementer an injustice. Let’s face it, for films and productions like this it can be all encompassing to those whom make them and often involves a dedicated few to make a final product that lands as something more artful than contemporary. Or maybe I’m being naive, but it doesn’t feel like it. A few people have invested a lot it time and effort to produce the film and it shows.

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