Trying to restart a life after escaping a cult, Kathie finds employment in a care center for adults with special needs. Little by little seems like Kathie will be able to find peace with herself by helping others at the center, until she meets Stephanie, a woman with Down syndrome, and their encounter seems to trigger in Kathie flashbacks and hallucinations about the cult she just hoped had left behind.
After seeing that Stephanie falls very ill and doesn’t get better even when she is getting medical attention, Kathie starts to suspect that she might be being targeted by an evil presence, therefore Kathie decides to perform protection rituals taken from an strange notebook and the things she learned on the cult, but the evil spirit lurking around Stephanie might be too powerful, as the poor woman keeps getting sicker by the day.
«Dementer» has several things that I enjoyed, and clearly this is a very personal film for writer/director Chad Crawford Kinkle (who previously brought us another excellent film called «Jug Face»). This time Kinkle brings to the screen his own sister, Stephanie Kinkle, who in real life has Down Syndrome, as one of the leads to tell us a very powerful thriller. Contrary to what we might have feared, Stephanie and the rest of the adults with mental disabilities appearing on the film are not used as a emotional blackmail, nor are they made fun of, or being portrayed as monsters or someone who we should fear; What we see are ordinary people that go around with their lives everyday like the rest of us, but sadly, with one of them ending up as the target of an evil spirit, although she is not aware of it at all..
With the character of Kathie, «Dementer» slyly poses the question: «When are you really helping someone and when you are actually putting them in a even bigger danger?» The extreme lengths Kathie go thru trying to save Stephanie from what she believes to be a supernatural threat makes us wonder if it is Kathie actually the one that needs help or if her days with the cult messed up her head even worse than what we imagined. Personally I was more disturbed by the idea of a mentally disable person being in danger without he/her ever being aware of it, or even being able to tell when someone is trying to help them, but cannot explain it, until is too late. Kinkle knows very well this feeling of impotence (via Kathie’s side) and pull no punches to exploit it.
The performances are very good, and the characters really feel as real people, like the ones we meet everyday. There are moments when I got the impression that someone just started rolling the camera on the care center with everybody going about their day, and added the story of Kathie and Stephanie here and there. A lot of the film falls on Kathie Groshong’s shoulders and effortlessly she sells us her character, someone that is trying to leave behind her awful past, and just tries to help an innocent person without knowing that it might cost her what little life she had managed to rebuild up to that moment.
The film has a very peculiar sound design that helps immensely to set the suspenseful mood, which is why I recommend to see this film with a good audio system. There are moments where we can hear the leader’s voice (awesomely played by Larry Fessenden) in a soothing, cuddly tone and in others we get a very disturbing, eerie voice with the help of environment sounds.
This film does not have those hateful jump scares, and there is almost no gore, which clearly states that this is not a conventional horror film, but uses its less than 90 minutes run time very effectively to tell a very good story, with a very original premise, and manages to keep us interested. Is worth watching at least twice.
«Dementer» just had its worldwide premiere at the Nashville Film Festival on October 10th, so be on the lookout fro a release date. The film was written and directed by Chad Crawford Kinkle and the cast has the talents of Katie Groshong, Stephanie Kinkle, Brandy Edmiston, Eller Hall, and Larry Fessenden