Delirium opens with Billy (Troy Osterberg) walking up a trail toward an abandoned, and allegedly haunted, mansion. He climbs down a ladder into a pool. A red ball bounces down the stairs on the other side, landing next to him. A little girl with her lips sewed shut in a black dress appears in the corner. Things get a lot worse for Billy before the opening credits run.
He was forced up there as initiation into the Hell Gang. They’re five straight white high school boys who won’t let girls into their club no matter how many times they ask. Muzo (Seth Austin) is the prankster, Keith (Ryan Pinkston) is the cautious one, Austin (Griffin Freeman) is the wannabe film student, and I’m certain Chase (Mike C. Manning) Eddie (Ian Bamberg) have some defining personality traits, though they weren’t shown in the film. It’s easy to confuse them since they look and act alike, but Delirium never set out to be a character study. It’s a simple movie, following the Hell Gang as they search for their lost initiate in the Brandt House.
The simple plot won’t blow anyone’s mind, but it also doesn’t leave room for any gaping holes. And that’s the thing with Delirium, it doesn’t take risks so it doesn’t make big mistakes. It’s competent, but unsatisfying.
There are logical issues centered around the mansion. The sets are beautiful, but not well thought through. The boys are carrying technology from the 2010s around a house that was last occupied in the era of black-and-white photos yet almost everything is still in place. No vagrants or wild animals have carried anything off.
At some points, Delirium is found footage. Characters carry cameras throughout, and when it’s convenient, director Johnny Martin elects to show the film through them. At other times, a traditional camera takes over to show reaction shots of the boy carrying the found footage camera. I’m not sure what having the found footage adds. Found footage horror is typically trying to pass off the events as true, as is done in Cannibal Holocaust (which was so convincing the director went on trial for murder) and The Blair Witch Project. The tradeoff is that the cinematography suffers for the illusion of reality. Once conventionally staged shots come in, that illusion is gone. There’s also a soundtrack, which shouldn’t exist in found footage.
But it’s good that there’s a soundtrack in Delirium. Mathieu Carratier’s work is one of the highlights of the film. His score helps ratchet up the tension in the movie and the bass lines brought Dario Argento and Goblin to mind.
The other high point is the fun the actors are clearly having, most notably in the closing credits montage. Seth Austin seems to be having the time of his life, and it’s hard not to feel a little gleeful watching him horse around.
Everyone does their best with simple, overtrod material. Delirium is competent but unsatisfying. You can check it out for yourself on January 19th.
WICKED RATING: 5/10
Director(s): Johnny Martin
Writer(s): Francisco Castro, Andy Cheng, Lisa Clemens, and Johnny Martin (story)
Stars: Ryan Pinkston, Griffin Freeman, Troy Osterberg, and Ian Bamberg
Release: January 19, 2018 (Theatrical/VOD)
Studio/ Production Co: Martini Films
Budget: $1 Million (estimated)