Let’s face it…Modern life can be a real minefield sometimes. Office politics, relationship troubles and the feeling of life rushing past as you stand still. It’s enough to drive you crazy. This is the idea at the centre of Kit Ryan’s Dementamania, a low-budget British horror film that channels the frustrations of modern city life through black comedy and body horror fantasy, that surprises and delights in equal measures.

Dementamania follows Edward Arkham, a successful young software analyst, who has crafted a seemingly perfect existence on the outside…but inside, he loathes his life and his haunted by a lost love. One fateful morning, as he moves through his apartment, he treads on a wasp, its stinger-lodging deep inside his foot. This event triggers a change within Edward; one exacerbated by the horrors of the workplace, from snide directors who manipulate and mock him, to his friends whose incessant bickering only frustrates him. Not to mention the appearance of a stranger in the office whose interest in Edward is rather disconcerting, and a festering rash that begins to spread over Edward’s sculpted physique. Soon, the line between Edward’s dark desires and the real world begin to blur, leading him down a road that could lead to murder and his very destruction.

4837_3605Dementamania is a visual storm of a horror film that allows Ryan to express his skills as a filmmaker. The film moves between reality (coldly lit and organized in tightly framed, rigidly set shots that reflect the imprisonment Edward feels in his everyday life) and the dark fantasies that Edward slips into in moments of stress and sexual stimulation (dominated by heightened colors, intense hot light and off kilter shots that cut rapidly and focus on the most horrific details in the moment) with a juxtaposition that creates an unsettling atmosphere as Edward beings to doubt his own reality, and even more impressively creates some standout moments of black humour, such as the gory fantasy of the office staff decimated via a number of common workplace items, from scissors and pencils, to the extreme of a coat stand and a copy machine…still copying photos of a victim’s severed head. Ryan’s approach is almost that of a schizophrenic style that reflect this uneasy relationship between reality and fantasy within Edward’s mind. It can be a little overwhelming at times, but its kinetic movement, dizzying editing and hyper stylization is particularly impressive and affective for such a low budget production.

The cast assembled for the film is a rather impressive and eclectic combination of talents; from John Thompson to Kal Penn, it’s a cast that in many ways reflects the attitude and dynamic nature of the film itself, everyone bouncing off of each other’s energy and seemingly having a lot of fun in the process, which shines through. However, in the central role of Edward, Scottish actor Sam Robertson truly excels, channeling the precise mania of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, but with a sense of desperation and disillusion that makes him vulnerable and relatable to the viewer. Robertson isn’t the only one to deliver a standout performance; Robert van Twillert steals the film whenever he is on screen as the mischievous Pablo, his crude humour and eccentric personality creating some of the film’s most entertaining moments.

The film is not without its faults however; some of the visual effects, particularly of the demonic wasp, are less than impressive, and as the film moves towards its conclusion, it almost delivers one too many twist endings. However, such effects are part and parcel of low budget filmmaking, and can’t be held against the film, while the ultimate conclusion is extremely satisfying and works perfectly in relation to the structure of the film, with a number of reveals that are particularly impressive and effective.

Dementamania is a fun horror black comedy fusion that channels the frustrations of modern life that we can all sympathize with, into a twisted fantasy of violent desire and madness. Never afraid to walk the line between pure humour and pure horror, it is an ambitious little gem, full of creativity and a twisting plot that throws the audience into a delirious nightmare that buries right into the heart of everyday horror and angst.

VERDICT: [rating=3]

About The Author

Matthew Hammond is a full time cinephile, specializing in cult, art house and 1980’s cinema. While film is his overwhelming passion, Matthew has been known to enjoy comic books, Sherlock Holmes stories and a good film related T-shirt. Feel free to email me with any questions or comments: mattpaul61@o2.co.uk