|Writer(s)||Francisco Castro, Andy Cheng|
|Release Date||January 19, 2018|
Believe it or not, Delirium is a good old-fashioned found-footage horror film. And here I was thinking we’d moved past such things. Nevertheless, here we are, in the mildly capable hands of Johnny Martin. This was his directorial feature debut. It was first screened at the Carmel International Film Festival under a different title in 2014, but feels as though it was filmed a few years before that, when there was at least some novelty in a film unfolding entirely within the ambit of a dopey bro’s video camera.
What’s Delirium about?
The usual. Our “heroes” – I wanted every single one to die horribly – are a group of morons who call themselves the “Hell Gang”, for reasons entirely unknown to me. They’re initiating a new member. The hazing involves the recruit venturing to the porch of a deserted mansion where a doctor went nuts and murdered his entire family. It should not surprise you at all to learn that the mansion is in the middle of the woods, or that the dare takes place entirely at night.
This is all chronicled on camera by Chase, who is the group’s nerdy intellectual member by simple virtue of wearing glasses. There’s a bit where he gets possessed, and the rest of the gang have to be all like, “Oh, ****, what’s up with Chase?”. It’s a big mystery and everyone laughs.
I suppose the mansion is haunted?
Naturally. Various ghosts and ghouls swan around, including a sultry naked one. And you can bet your last penny that there’ll be a little girl, crouched in a corner, facing away from the camera, and when she turns her face will be horribly misshapen and everyone will scream and run off. This is classic stuff.
You don’t seem too keen.
I was bored to tears. Of course, it isn’t unusual for genre films to borrow ideas and scenarios from classics or even near-classics in that particular wheelhouse. But the pilfering in Delirium is so obnoxiously brazen that it almost feels like a joke. Or a drinking game, I guess. Take a shot every time you see something blatantly nabbed from The Shining. You’ll be clattered by about halfway through.
Come to think of it, that’s probably the only way to actually enjoy Delirium.
How’s the cast?
Dullards, to a man. Not an ounce of charisma between them. Structurally, the film kind of relies on them being interesting, too, which makes it extraordinarily difficult to care about. Will the Hell Gang find the recruit who disappeared inside the mansion and hasn’t been seen since? Don’t care. Will they figure out what’s wrong with Chase? Erm… nope, still don’t care. Will the jock guy take the naked seductress ghost to bed? Okay, you might be onto something here…
Wasn’t there anything you enjoyed?
Despite my sheer indifference to the narrative and my active dislike of the characters, I should point out that mid-fifties former stuntman Johnny Martin knows his way around a camera. Were he thirty years younger he’d probably be described as “promising.” As it stands, I was mostly left wondering how he feels having this thing as his feature debut. Suddenly Delirium seems like quite a smart title.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.