Cults are a oft used part of horror. They are inherently frightening due to how little tends to be known about them. Dementer takes the classic cult trope in new directions. After escaping from a cult, Katie (Katie Groshong) has managed to find a job at a special development center. Before long, she has bonded with a girl with Down’s Syndrome named Stephanie. As her past continues to haunt her, she becomes obsessed with protecting Stephanie.
Dementer takes horror to a setting it does not visit often. This allows the movie to take a more personal look. Unfortunately, horror movies tend to use disabilities as a cheap ploy to garner sympathy. This is never the case here. Director Chad Crawford Krinkle’s story has a more genuine feel despite some of its more fantastic elements.
This is also seen in how disorienting the film can be. The opening has strange sounds and title cards scrawled in crayon. This continues throughout the movie. There are constant flashbacks that never allow the audience to get comfortable and revisiting noises that will have them looking around. There is a sense of unease throughout the entire film.
Groshong is great in a role that requires her to constantly be afraid while keeping a brave face for Stephanie. There is a genuine fear for her and an interest in her past. Groshong uses glances and inflections to show emotion. She is a great example of an actor adding to a film’s atmosphere. The audience will get behind her and feel for her.
Ultimately, many of Dementer’s strengths work against it. In particular, the constant camera switches work in the early parts of the movie when developing the story. It becomes an annoyance once the audience has a handle on the plot. It never loses the disorienting quality but it does become jarring in a distracting way. It is great for creating an atmosphere, however.
It is always nice to see horror step outside of its wheelhouse. Fans tend to be very forgiving, enabling films to necessitate to change little. Dementer does just that with a new setting for a familiar premise. The use of strange sounds and putting its story in an unfamiliar location, the movie will draw its audience in. It has its flaws, but its worth a watch.
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