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DELIRIUM (2018)

aka CASE #13
Directed by Johnny Martin
Written by Francisco Castro, Andy Cheng, Lisa Clemens, Johnny Martin
Starring Ryan Pinkston, Elena Sanchez, Mike C. Manning, Teresa Navarro, Griffin Freeman, Mila Brener, Seth Austin, Lindsay Bushman, Ian Bamberg, BJ Mitchell,
Callan Taylor, Troy Osterberg, August Roads, Travis michael Myers, Nicholas Scott, Dominic Salvatore, Jonathan Devereaux, Jenny Martin, Josey Martin, Nia Bois, Hayley Christensen, Robert C. Parsons

A bunch of bros investigate a haunted house in DELIRIUM, the latest in the never-ending stream of found footage films. Personally, I still can be enrapt with the found footage film style if it’s done right and the found footage feels authentic. I haven’t done my found footage questionnaire in a while, so I’ll dust it off in order to see if DELIRIUM passes the test.

What is it all about?
Intrigued by an urban legend surrounding a mansion on an estate outside of their hometown, a group of longtime friends down some brews, ditch their girlfriends, fire up their cameras, and dare one of their own to film themselves on the front porch of the mansion. When he doesn’t return, the group grabs more cameras they happen to have with them and head out to the mansion to find out what happened to their bro.


Are the actors successfully acting like they aren’t acting?
The acting here isn’t half bad. Sure there’s a lot of talking over one another and whole lot of bro-language going on, but there are a few moments where the cast really is able to elevate themselves to the intensity of the situation they find themselves in. Now, I’m not calling the Academy just yet, but the actors convincingly acted scared, concerned, terrified, entranced, and…did I mention scared?

Does the footage found seem authentic and untouched by additional production (no omniscient editor making multiple edits between cameras or an invisible orchestra providing music)?
And this is where the whole thing shits the bed. It seems like the filmmakers behind DELIRIUM either never saw a found footage film or doesn’t give a care in hell if it feels authentic in any way. The film is mostly handheld, except when it’s not and some kind of omniscient cameraman captures the action of the people holding and pointing the camera. The rapid fire edits are infinite and the viewer is never given any indication as to why these tapes from multiple formats and cameras have been spliced together. And most annoyingly, this film sports a soundtrack that rips off Henry Manfredini’s iconic FRIDAY THE 13TH theme—“kill-kill-kill-ma-ma-ma” and everything.

Why don’t they just drop the camera and get the hell out of there?
Apparently, the bros have been bros since they were kids. With one of them missing, I guess it is a worthwhile gesture for them all to keep looking for their friend. Then again, there is no real reason, apart from using the camera as a light source, to keep the camera rolling for the length of the film. No thought was put into sending one of the bros off to get help once the shit gets paranormal, but things do happen pretty quickly.


Is there an up-nose BLAIR WITCH confessional or a REC-drag away from the camera?
Check and check. Yes there are and while I have tried for ages to help filmmakers understand that these are tired tropes in need of retirement, they just don’t listen. Thankfully, the drag away and the confessional occur quickly in this one so we don’t have to endure these clichés for too long.

Does anything actually happen? Is the lead in too long and the payoff too short?
The action actually is spread out pretty evenly throughout the film with a handheld sequence before the rather nice and moody credits sequence. And the quality of acting and the way the film sort of leaps into the action keeps this film from hitting too many lulls for most of the runtime.

Does the film add anything to the subgenre and, ultimately, is it worth watching?
I actually liked the backstory that is dropped on the viewer rather clunkily involving a mother of 12 children dying in a grisly manner while birthing her 13th and the father who never forgave his children for her death. While it is told rather hammily, it is a story that works at setting a creepy tone. There is also a sequence that is a little more than an homage to THE SHINING’s Room 237 sequence with the lady in the bathroom. While it isn’t very original, the way it is filmed proved to me that the folks behind this film have some skill in staging a thrilling and chilling scene. Final verdict; I think this would have been a stronger film had they gone the more traditional, theatrical route rather than handheld. I understand the handheld route is cheaper, but since the film drops that motif whenever they feel like it, it isn’t a leap to just do the whole thing in a more traditional manner. DELIRIUM has some heart, some talent, and some promise for better things in the future for the filmmakers. It just isn’t a good found footage film.




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