I can’t help but watch any type of zombie flick, and it really does not matter how many times I have been burned by low-quality product. So, as I sat watching The Demented, I started to relax a little. Then the “dream sequences” started to trickle in and I knew that the ending would be lackluster—and it was.
The mighty George A. Romero has worked hard to give his movies sardonic endings. Take Ben’s death in Night of the Living Dead or the eternal feud in Survival of the Living Dead. These endings have influenced countless imitators, but only a few can get it right. Not so with The Demented, in which director Christopher Roosevelt seeks inspiration from various zombie movies only to blow it in the end.
So, is The Demented worth watching? In my opinion, I would venture a cautious “yes.” Ripping out a page from movies that range from Romero’s The Crazies to modern fare, notably Boyle’s 28 Days Later, The Demented concerns three male/female couples who get together one final time before graduating from college and moving on with their lives and careers. These young people are the typical Hollywood cookie-cutter types: young, slim, arrogant, and filthy rich. But wait, just when you’ve had enough of their melodrama, things get interesting, and so do the characters.
As the couples frolic about one of dad’s summer homes, they receive a frantic call from said dad. The garbled communication cites a possible terrorist attack. Moments later, the couples watch as a missile explodes over New Orleans. Interestingly, the explosion looks nuclear, but a radio transmission indicates that there have also been biological attacks on the mainland.
The biological attacks transform the infected (no word on patient zero) into raging zombies. The zombies look undead, as they have missing body parts and are often covered in blood. The first of these infected is a family dog, which singlehandedly keeps the couples locked in the mansion for the night in one of the film’s highlights.
At first the couples elect to remain in the mansion, but soon there are human zombies to contend with, and these creatures move quickly, can climb stairs and bust through windows, and have some physical strength. The body count begins right from the house invasion, and what follows are several intense sequences, with the young people reacting quite realistically to their horrifying surroundings.
Although the acting is a little loose, it’s the script and the direction that will disappoint most viewers. There are several “no way would I do that” sequences that hamper the movie. And then there are the dream sequences. I will not spoil the movie, but suffice to say that the ending is far from sardonic or bitter. Instead, it comes off as a cheat and makes much of what has come not worthwhile after all.
Despite the missteps found in The Demented, the movie overall is worth a viewing for fans of zombie fare, horror movies, and even thrillers. Yes, there is nothing new here, but the situations are presented in a relatively fresh way. Pluses include the cast, who work hard at remaining believable; the action sequences and special effects; and the editing, which keeps the noose tight until the climax.
Another big plus are the zombies. These creatures stand still when there is no prey to trigger their rage. Movement and noise activate them. I am not sure if they eat their victims, but I am sure that they do tear them apart. The infection also transfers to animals, with the rage-infection zombie dog one of the highlights of this flick.
The DVD I purchased was bare bones, with scene selection and some subtitle captions available but no special features.