Thursday, April 8, 2021

Dementer Review: An Unsettling Rural Horror Story

Brandy Edmiston	Brandy Edmiston	...	Brandy Larry Fessenden	Larry Fessenden	...	Larry Katie Groshong	Katie Groshong	...	Katie Eller Hall	Eller Hall	...	Eller Scott Hodges	Scott Hodges	...	Joey Stephanie Kinkle	Stephanie Kinkle	...	Stephanie

Release date: March 2, 2021
Running time: 107 minutes
Written and Directed By: Chad Crawford Kinkle
Starring: Brandy Edmiston, Katie Groshong, Eller Hall, Stephanie Kinkle

The film follows Katie (Katie Groshong), a young woman who flees a backwoods cult and takes a job at a care center for special needs adults in her determination to do some good with her life. But despite her best intentions, Katie can't escape the signs that "the devils" are coming for Stephanie (Stephanie Kinkle), a woman with Down syndrome she cares for, who keeps getting sicker despite Katie's rituals to ward off evil spirits.

Produced by  Chad Crawford Kinkle	...	producer Ashleigh Snead	...	producerMusic by  Sean Spillane	Cinematography by  Jeff Wedding	Film Editing by  Chad Crawford Kinkle	Production Design by  Kelly Anne Ross	Costume Design by  Maya Marin	Second Unit Director o
Dementer has an intriguing, unsettling start that lets you know that something strange is about to happen.  It goes into some of the rituals that Katie was involved in at the cult and some of the reasons why she had to flee.  But then it goes into Katie's normal life and how she is trying to make a new one for herself.  This constant juxtaposition between her rural cult life and her new life slowly reveal some aspects of her past.  I actually really liked seeing these scenes of Katie working at her new life.  It showed how good she was with people and how much her time with the cult changed her.  

Dementer makes the smart choice of using practical effects to portray the horrors of Katie's cult life and the aftermath.  And overall they are very good, including one lifelike depiction of a carcass.  Occasionally the effects will look a little off, like one scene where blood wells up from past wounds, but overall the effects do not break your sense of immersion.  And Dementer does a good job of getting you into the mind of Katie and her unsettling life.  There are cuts back to her time at the cult that are accompanied by creepy voices, strange music, and flashes of her past life that will give you an unsettling feeling.  In a similar vein to last years The Lodge, the movie uses flashbacks and voices to give you a sense of what the cult was like.   

But although Dementer does a great job setting the atmosphere and keeping you on edge, it often times feels like form over substance.  The unsettling clips often reuse pieces of Katie's life so you start to become all too familiar with these weird occurrences.  There are two main sequences that are reused a number of times.  We sometimes get different angles of these scenes or other cuts, but generally they are the same throughout.  And the film's focus on these two scenes deprive you of a better idea of how Katie was indoctrinated and even what the cult's beliefs are.  There are snippets here and there, but the main brainwashing scene felt contrived and too convenient.  And the beliefs are revealed only in terms of rituals and notes from Katie's book.  I would have liked to know more about what the underlying beliefs were.  And you need this information to understand better why Katie does what she does and why she can't let go of these beliefs.  Strange occurrences happen, but it is often unclear if this is her or some supernatural force, and the movie concludes without really giving you a sense of who was behind all of this.  

But that being said, Dementer's unsettling atmosphere, great practical effects, and creepy sounds will keep you on edge throughout this indie rural horror story.

Rent it.

Directed by  Chad Crawford Kinkle	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Chad Crawford Kinkle
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Dementer is available digitally and on demand on March 2, 2021. 

For additional information about the film and to rent / buy it, check it out at the links below.

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