October 13, 2013

The Demented (2013)

Directed by Christopher Roosevelt. Starring Sarah Butler ("Sharley"), Kayla Ewell ("Taylor"), Richard Kohnke ("David"), and Brittney Alger ("Naomi"). Rated R.

Source: Region 1 DVD (Anchor Bay/Starz)
Running time: 01:31:59
Country: USA

Yep, another Sarah Butler joint. If you're not aware of my totally-not-creepy obsession with this woman, read my STRANGER WITHIN review for further details. She seems to be cranking out some B-movies on a steady basis as of late, which is fine with me. I just wish she'd pick some good ones for a change. Just kidding lol! THE DEMENTED is set in Louisiana and revolves around a group of young, good-looking college students who are holed up in the midst of a biological terrorist attack. As a result of said attack, a majority of the citizens have become "infected", which apparently causes them to run really fast and do weird shit. The group of friends, however, are safe due to the fact that they're staying in a home that's so far removed from civilization.

As far as the protagonists, there are six characters - three males, three females. They're all physically attractive, smart, or athletic, with the exception of the rich kid who's just a douchebag with no redeemable qualities. Aside from Sarah Butler, I can't say I've seen any of the actors in anything else. The lead character Taylor is played by Kayla Ewell, who looks like a cross between Jessica Biel and Rebecca Hall. In my opinion she's easily the best actor of the bunch and does a good job of carrying the movie. As far as everyone else is concerned, I wouldn't call their performances "bad", but there's certainly something odd about how most of them come across.

THE DEMENTED is basically THE CRAZIES. It's also pretty fucking weird. Getting back to the actors... one of the things that makes the performances feel strange is the dubbing. This movie has the most noticeable ADR I've ever heard in an American movie - excluding, of course, the low-budget films of yesteryear that didn't have the technology and resources we have in this day and age. But, as far as the dubbing is concerned, there are quite a few times where the sound doesn't match up with the actors' mouths, and the tones of the voices don't match up with the faces and posture of the actors. Because of the bad ADR job, THE DEMENTED feels like a foreign movie at times, or that the characters are ventriloquists and we just aren't in on the joke as viewers.

Another thing worth mentioning are the performances themselves. Without dropping names, some of the actors behave like they're hypnotized, or we're witnessing an unestablished dream sequence where everything is a little "off". I don't recall ever seeing anything like it. Like I said: weird. At times, THE DEMENTED is a decent Action/Survival Horror movie; at other times, it's on the verge of BIRDEMIC levels of bad. Ultimately, though, I found the bizarre tone of the film to be a good thing. Regardless of whether it happened for the wrong reasons or not, THE DEMENTED had my attention. The "infected" people also add to the weirdness. At one point there's some little girl doing what looks like interpretive dancing in the middle of a road, and the infected population as a whole find themselves frozen stiff at the most random times.

THE DEMENTED, for the most part, has a low-budget look, and the moments of CGI in particular are what truly expose its technical shortcomings. But, for an indie Action/Horror movie made by a seemingly up-and-coming filmmaker, THE DEMENTED is shot pretty well. I was actually impressed with the cinematography while watching it. Films like this have a tendency to be a little too cliche when it comes to the visuals (excessive shaky cam and whatnot), but this is an exception. While the quality of the visuals isn't the best, a lot of the camera movements and compositions are noteworthy.

In the end, THE DEMENTED slightly overstays its welcome, and watching the characters work their way through obstacle courses of the infected becomes tedious, but, just when you think it shits the bed in the last few minutes, it redeems itself with a cheap but effective ending. And I still love Sarah Butler. Please RT!

Score: 5.5

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