Dementer, Chad Crawford Kinkle, Katie Groshong (Horror Movie Review)

Dementer, Chad Crawford Kinkle, Katie Groshong (Horror Movie Review)
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PLOT: A woman fears the cult she used to be involved with may be targeting a woman with Down's Syndrome, who is under her care at a home for adults with special needs.

REVIEW: Jug Face writer/director Chad Crawford Kinkle's Dementer (watch it HERE) is a slow burn horror movie that hooks you with the thought that maybe something interesting and/or shocking enough will happen at the end that enduring its 81 minutes of trippy sights and sounds will turn out to be a rewarding experience. Unfortunately, at the point when I was ready for some clarity and straightforward storytelling, Kinkle just made things even weirder and more experimental, so in the end I can't say I found Dementer to be a satisfying movie to watch.

The story begins with a mysterious woman named Katie (Katie Groshong) taking a job at a home for adults with special needs, but it's clear right from the start that Katie is not in a healthy state of mind. She keeps having jarring flashbacks to - we can quickly deduce - the time she spent in a strange cult, led by a guy who's played by Larry Fessenden and likes to go on and on about "the devils" that are out there. There are admittedly some intriguing visuals in these flashbacks, and when those visuals are mixed with the sound design Dementer does have a bit of a '70s feel to it, but my appreciation and tolerance for these flashbacks started to fade before long. They happen too frequently, they're too vague, and they get to be too repetitive. (How many times do you need to hear Fessenden count to thirteen?) I can't really tell you exactly what happened while Katie was in the cult. I know it wasn't good, but I definitely couldn't explain it all.

Dementer Katie Groshong Chad Crawford Kinkle

The best thing about Dementer isn't the horror, it's the interactions Katie and her co-workers have with the people under their care. At least most and likely all of the actors who play characters with special needs really do have special needs, and they are very endearing. One of those characters with special needs is Stephanie, a woman with Down's Syndrome who is played by Kinkle's own sister Stephanie Kinkle.

When Stephanie falls ill, Katie grows concerned that she's being targeted by the cult she has run away from, so she starts taking desperate measures to ensure Stephanie's safety. All the while, we can't really be sure if there is a cult after Katie and Stephanie, or if this is all in Katie's mind and we're seeing the situation from the perspective of an unreliable narrator who is having a mental breakdown. At least Kinkle does give us a solid answer to that question by the time the credits start rolling.

Groshong did strong work in the lead role, making sure I never knew whether or not Katie could be trusted or if someone should make sure to keep her far away from Stephanie. Another standout in the cast is newcomer Brandy Edmiston as Katie's co-worker Brandy. Judging by the names, Kinkle wrote almost every role with these specific performers in mind, and Brandy seems very true-to-life.

Dementer Chad Crawford Kinkle

I found a lot of things to admire about Dementer; stylistic choices, the respect shown to those with special needs. If the ending had been better, I could have been more positive about it overall, but the ending is a letdown that leaves too many questions unanswered. So this was very much a middle-of-the-road movie for me. It's worth a look if you like trippy slow burns, but the story is lacking.

Dementer will be available to watch on all Digital platforms, courtesy of Dark Star Pictures, as of March 2nd.

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