Welcome witches and warlocks,

Today I will be reviewing the horror feature DEMENTIA 13 by director Richard LeMay.  To best describe the story, I will turn to the IMDB plot summary:

“A vengeful ghost, a mysterious killer, and a family where everyone has a secret converge in one night of terror.”

Allow me to address a complaint first; the acting is hit or miss.  While I thought some people did a perfectly fine job in their performances, others were less convincing.  I will admit, because of this I mentally downgraded this film in my mind, but when the story got going I became intrigued.

I mean, how often do a ghost, an axe murderer, a gang of criminals, and a fighting family all converge upon an old castle?  Sure, it sounds like the setup to a joke, but they play the scenario straight the whole way through making it entirely effective.  Better yet, each of these things gets a good amount of emphasis so that I never felt as if they were just adding tropes in for the sake of padding out the story.

From a design standpoint, I especially liked almost anything concerned with the ghost. Whether it be the creepy dolls that served as the specter’s toys to the look of the phantom, this particular aspect of the movie was very visually appealing.  It was also a nice touch that the apparition had a watery look about it which played in nicely to the origin of the spook.

Given that this is modeled after a much older picture, I appreciated that they kept the look a lot more classical.  Apart from a few cell phones here and there, the production design is such that this could have taken place in almost any decade.  This is further backed up by the cinematography which does not use quick cuts (which has become more indicative of modern films), but instead keeps the camera steady and the shots wide.  Making these sorts of choices made this feel very much like a classic horror feature set in modern times.

One last thing of note, the castle itself was beautiful to behold.  In fact, much of the grounds were also quite pretty leading to a piece that contrasts the darkness of the proceedings with the lushness of the surroundings.  The remoteness of the family’s castle also plays nicely into the finale when we come to realize one character’s fate.

All in all, thanks to the clever balancing act they pulled off in the story department, this ends up being a pretty entertaining movie.  While the acting can be a bit of an issue, the creepiness of the supernatural elements combined with the beautiful production values makes up the difference.  Fans of features like House on Haunted Hill (1999) or the original Dementia 13 (1963) should give this a look.

DEMENTIA 13 arrives in select theaters October 6 and on VOD and Digital HD October 10, 2017 from Chiller Films.

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