Nothing kills a horror movie more than a feeling of mundane repetitiveness. How many times have we seen “infection” movies about the end of the world? A billion – and it’s always the same set up. A bunch of college kids end up on vacation or together for some reason, disaster strikes, they get caught in the middle of some horrendous scenario where infected people are eating one another, and they try to escape. That’s the plan so many generic horror movies stick to – it never fails. Unfortunately for director Christopher Roosevelt, The Demented doesn’t deviate from that blueprint in the slightest, offering no memorable moments of creative interpretation.
The setting? Louisiana. The characters? A group of insanely good looking hardbodies you’ve seen here and there. The scenario? While vacationing at Howard’s (Michael Welch) rich father’s house, terrorists attack America using biological weapons that turn people into cannibalistic freaks. One missile crashes near our group’s vacation spot, and they’re forced to fight off growing numbers of diseased maniacs. When all seems lost, a radio signal stating helicopters are flying people out of harm’s way seems like a beacon of hope – if only they can get there in time.
Our group’s struggle for survival isn’t a necessarily exciting journey though, as The Demented simply goes through the motions a horror movie should. It’s safe, watered down, and distractingly chaotic in ways that attempt to mask the low-budget nature. While I never judge independent horror based on quality issues caused by a smaller budget, it’s hard to really stay excited about a film where all the action takes place off-screen. Character deaths were mostly reduced to nothing but some screams from behind a door or from another room, as the film visually lacked any serious bite. Brittney Alger’s death was the most disappointing of all, exploiting the previous scenario in a way that was basically just a vanishing act for her character Naomi. Her death literally had no impact on me as a viewer, and the same could be said for our remaining cast members as well, sadly. Now you see her, now you don’t – abracadabra!
Our cast of eye-candy “it” kids didn’t do much to save The Demented either, as it appeared their only job for the entire first half of Roosevelt’s film was to stand around and look pretty – displayed by an unnecessarily long slip and slide scene. Not that I’m complaining about seeing these bikini-clad beauties bouncing around or anything, but I honestly forgot I was watching a horror movie at that point. Pressing on after the terrorist attacks though, I never felt a cohesive bond between our players, only adding to the tensionless cannibalistic attack continuing to rage on. Lacking any real scares or moments of outrageous genre work, there’s nothing separating this generic infection thriller from the countless other copy-cat films that continue to pile up every year.
Considering the Blu-Ray specs on this guy, at least there’s no denying it looks pretty. The sound blares in Dolby TrueHD 5.1, and the perfect 1080p feed makes sure we can see every drop of blood and bead of sweat glistening on each and every cast member. The “infected” also look pretty convincing, utilizing decent effects work to turn everyday people into ferocious biting machines, but with such little emphasis put on actual scenes of gore, the crystal clear imagery is really wasted. Oh well, at least a cool extra or two might add something worth-while, right?
I wouldn’t know, because there isn’t a single extra on this Blu-Ray release. Nothing. Zero. Zip. When you pop this sucker in, all you can do is click “Play,” “Set Up,” or “Scene Selection.” No commentary, no behind-the-scenes looks, no gag reel, no comments by the cast and crew – nothing. It’s disappointing enough that The Demented lacks any real entertainment value, but it’s even worse that the Blu-Ray lacks any value at all. I even would have taken a single deleted scene. Just one! Instead, there’s an emptiness left by the saddening lack of bonus treats, leaving us out to dry like a trick or treater who finds the one family who doesn’t celebrate Halloween. No goodies for you!
Failing to emerge as a surprise hit, The Demented is anything but. In fact, it’s rather tame, dull, and lacking of any real insanity at all. Indistinguishable amongst a genre that has already been oversaturated with pretty faces and simplistic stories, watching Roosevelt’s film felt like déjà vu. Had I seen this movie before? For the most part, yes. Different title, different creators, different actors – but the same recycled situational filmmaking. Oh well, not every cinematic adventure has a happy ending, and my latest horror experience is a perfect example of that statement. I mean, really? Not a single extra? Sorry fans, there’s no real need for The Demented to be part of your prized Blu-Ray collection.