Dir: Kit Ryan. UK. 2013. 83mins
Edward Arkham (Sam Robertson), a mid-level office drone at a software company in the City, steps on a wasp and suffers a toxic reaction to the sting which manifests as gruesome special effects boils and a fragmentation of reality that takes in explicitly gory fantasies of murder and mayhem in the office and conversations with various alter ego-type imaginary friends.
Standout support comes from Dutch actor Robert van Twillert as a Harve Villechaize-style libidinous little person who gives Arkham very poor advice.
Over the course of one bad day, Arkham cracks up completely and the film goes deeper into his would-be surreal fantasy world, treading a path much trodden by the likes of Fight Club or The Glass Man, which also played at London’s FrightFest event, where Dementamania screened.
Directed by Kit Ryan, whose previous movie was the shaggy dog horror thriller Botched, from a purportedly semi-autobiographical script by producer Anis Shlewet, Dementamania has a rich look and some impressive mind-warping horror effects but suffers from a hard-to-care-about protagonist and an overfamiliar descent-into-madness plot trajectory.
Scots actor Sam Robertson, a veteran of Coronation Street, is too sharply handsome to be convincing as someone who’d be turned away from a night-club – physically, he seems more like a Patrick Bateman-style master of the universe than a British office loser who lines up his pens and sweats in embarrassing social situations.
An eclectic, interesting cast includes usually-typecast British hard-men Vincent Regan and Geoff Bell as Arkham’s inner monster and a smarmy co-worker; comedy player John Thomson as a security guard; Hollyoaks veterans Melissa Wells and Holly Weston as various love interests and token American Kal Penn (of the Harold & Kumar franchise) as the genially tyrannical CEO of the company. However, the standout support comes from Dutch actor Robert van Twillert as a Harve Villechaize-style libidinous little person who gives Arkham very poor advice.
That the similarly-toned Glass Man, which has the benefit of higher-profile stars (Andy Nyman, Neve Campbell), is unreleased two years on from its FrightFest debut suggests Dementamania might have a struggle positioning itself. Too cartoonishly gruesome in its fantasy murder sequences to play as an arthouse item, it is also too ploddingly significant to work as a straight horror movie
Production companies: Gloucester Place Films, Green Screen Productions, International Pictures Three, Opix Films, Premiere Picture, Rash, Ronin Pictures
International sales: Stealth Media, www.stealthmediagroup.com
Producers: James T Ryan, Anis Shlewet
Co-producers: Alan Latham, Neil Tuohy
Executive producers: Jason Garrett, David Rogers, Terence Ryan, Nigel Thomas
Screenplay: Anis Shlewet
Cinematography: Gerry Lively
Editor: Jeremy Gibbs
Production designer: Jon Bunker
Music: Guy Farley
Main cast: Sam Robertson, Vincent Regan, Geoff Bell, John Thomson, Kal Penn, Holly Weston, Anthony Cozens, Melissa Wells, Robert van Twillert, Richard Ashton