Studio: Anchor Bay
Director: Christopher Roosevelt
Writer: Christopher Roosevelt
Producer: Shirley Craig, Steven R. Monroe, Danny Roth, Damiano Tucci, Phillip P. Goldfine, Christine Holder, Mark Holder
Stars: Sarah Butler, Kayla Ewell, Richard Kohnke, Britany Alger, Ashlee Brian, Michael Welch
Six friends fight for their lives after a biological attack on Louisiana unleashes raging hordes of infected zombies.
Given what it is, “The Demented” could have been a lot worse. That backhanded compliment is highly unlikely to appear as a quote on the DVD cover, but it is the most concise way to sum up the film’s value.
“The Demented” is almost accidentally brilliant in the way that it continually lowers expectations throughout the first half hour. Simply because it makes the mediocrity of the latter hour seem somewhat spectacular by comparison.
“The Demented” is set in present day Baton Rouge. We know this because the film feels the need to specifically point this out with an onscreen graphic. Why it feels this need when Louisiana street signs are everywhere and no scenes take place at any different time is anyone’s guess.
A multiracial quartet of twentysomethings cranks up the generic hard rock music on their way to meet another pair of friends at the rich jerk’s father’s summer home. The jock, the slut, the med student, and the other stereotypes then crack open the cold ones and start careening down the Slip ‘n Slide faster than you can yawn at the setup.
Their weekend of drunken fun in the sun is upended when the rich jerk’s father calls to warn them of an impending biological terrorist attack on the Gulf Coast. In this situation, you might think that the next course of action would be to drive back into town and catch the news on a television (this home is inconveniently without one). At the very least, they might sit in the car and turn on the radio to stay abreast of the latest developments. But even after a poorly superimposed digital green mushroom cloud appears on the horizon, the girls still find time to mull over their relationship woes instead. Granted, I would have issues with someone over the age of 12 gifting me a promise ring too, but a new 9/11 is not the best time to stress about such trivial matters.
When a zombie dog appears on the lawn, the group finally decides to take things seriously. After the dog is beaten to death, the good guy thinks it best to drive the carcass into town and dump it at Animal Control. Because that seems like top priority while the rest of the world is on the brink of World War III. At this point, the audience is suitably conditioned to expect nothing more than cheap FX and a boilerplate excuse for generic zombie action.
That is mostly true, except when the nondescript good guy returns from town with news of a quarantine and a raging zombie outbreak, the film actually picks up. Perhaps realizing that digital FX are not its strong suit, “The Demented” turns things over to stuntmen crashing through glass windows and grabbing at the college students with all the frenetic passion of an infected horde from “28 Days Later.”
To the film’s credit, it makes good use of its action pieces with smart cuts and careful angles that squeeze every penny from its small budget. “The Demented” really does its best to hide the low-end materials that they had to work with, and the strategy works well for staging scenes that actually have mild tension and a professional look.
But that is really all there is to the movie. This is assuredly the wrong place to look for original horror entertainment or for anything resembling a memorable or unique scene. Though anyone that just wants a mostly mindless ninety minutes of college kids running from zombies, hiding from zombies, and killing zombies, then have at it. I really would be interested to hear how a script like this courts potential investors.
“What’s the movie about?”
“People running from zombies.”
“Cool. What else?”
“Oh, nothing else. That’s it.”
Is “The Demented” worth going out of your way to track down? No. Are you likely to be disappointed if you do see it? Maybe. Could you do a lot worse when it comes to run of the mill low-budget independent zombie horror films? Yes, definitely.
As soon as “The Demented” disappears from the “New Release” section of Netflix or Redbox, it will also disappear completely from being on anyone’s radar ever again. But whether you end up hating it or end up tolerating it, just remember, it could have been a lot worse.
Review Score: 50