Any new horror film catches my attention with little effort. When I heard about new micro-budget, indie Dementer, it instantly shot on to my list to check out. The closest relation I could draw to this exhaustingly repetitive cult flick is 2018’s Children of the Corn: Runaway. Similar to that direct-to-streaming film, Dementer is about the survivor of a murderous cult (Katie, played by Katie Groshong) as she struggles to adjust to normal living after the horrors of her past. Working at a nursing home seems, at surface-level, like it would be a good fit for Katie’s sensibilities and an easygoing, relatively stress-free job. Her past takes her into a chokehold and will not let up, but is there more to her visions than just history?
Unlike Runaway—which is, at least, mildly successful in evoking thrills and chills—Dementer never manages to nail down a story that feels worthy of being told. Katie forms little more than fleeting relationships with a range of other characters. Over and over we watch as Katie, isolating herself from normalcy, struggles with flashbacks of her time with the cult. Though the sound design is excellent at times, repetition is the name of the game here. Every five minutes would bring with it a new breakdown or knife-twist of trauma. We get it already; her past is haunting her. Can we move on?
When it comes to blood, there’s a large quantity of it, but not necessarily in the way you’d desire. What blood we do get is cheap and gaudy. A scene near the middle, where we see Katie’s literal battle scars from her time in the cult, puts poor makeup effects on full display. This was obviously an indie feature, and as such, the budget might have impeded the team’s grander visions. Dementer can’t be entirely faulted for that reason. When it feels like so little effort has been put in, it’s upsetting as a viewer. Unfortunately, Dementer doesn’t even meet the most basic criteria for a horror film: to keep me entertained. Dementer arrives on digital platforms on Tuesday, March 2nd, courtesy of Dark Star Pictures.