It's all in your head
It’s finally a month that makes logical sense for me to pull out some scary movies. Yeah, I know, I can hear you complaining that I do too many of those kinds of movies - but you know what? There’s only so many Godzilla flicks I can do (although I do suppose I could start up one of the other eras). Regardless, tonight we take on something a little less slashy, and try using our brains for a change. This chiller of a thriller will have you second guessing your own plot assumptions as you go, tonight we watch Delirium - the one with Topher Grace, because apparently there are a bunch of them, two of which came out the same year (insane, right?).
This is a movie with a small cast. Thrillers usually can work this angle very well, what with their often-held usage of psychological elements over things like a high body count. We really only have about four real characters, despite some characters that show up largely don’t do much outside of spook. Instead, the largest chunk of actual acting falls on our Topher, and what can I say? The guy does awkward and skittish incredibly well. Here, it really helps sell the “am I insane” moments of the movie, while also stopping him from looking like a person you wouldn’t expect to have these sorts of issues. A bit of an every-man who just happens to have had some reason for being institutionalized. His supporting cast comes off largely as they should - the inquisitive nice market girl whose pretty understanding with a broken past herself, the hard-faced somewhat jerk parole officer with a real chip on her shoulder, and a bunch of things that might be real people or hallucinatory ghosts that you need to keep watching to figure out which.
The mysterious elements - namely that of the psychotic breakdown, supernatural, or reality of the main - are largely what keeps the story going. The fact that you spend so much time wondering these sorts of things is rather essential to the real desire to continue watching - yes, there are a lot of surprise elements that pop up over time, but all these underlying things that go to develop the story in an engaging way are largely absent until the reveal. The large brunt of the movie is just a man struggling to keep grips on the real world, made all the harder by being in a house where his father died. The sudden loneliness and location help compound pressures upon him, to the point where he can’t tell if he’s being haunted or going insane. That is the main element that a watcher is going to snag onto, including the main’s acting job in selling it. Thankfully, at the very least for me those did their jobs and I did indeed keep watching (even despite numerous interruptions to my viewing). You want to find out whats going on - and the big old nugget at the end is just a bit of whip cream that you didn’t expect. On the other hand, it’s sort of a risky move, considering that if someone doesn’t dig what it is or isn’t into the vibes and atmosphere than they may loose interest before then.
Despite having only one person on screen during a good chunk of it, things don’t stick around too long statically. Moments play out almost like a montage at time, hopping around as the lead gets into being back, with fun and somewhat outdated things like listening to older music, riding a scooter around, or hanging back up all his old posters. It isn’t all fun and games though, and the ominous events are spread quite well at first, and get a deal heavier by the end when stakes ante. The mystery ranges from finding hidden places, mysterious phone calls, all the way up to haunting illusions - but we are never really sure what any given thing is. To that end it really plays the insanity card well, keeping you guessing just as much as the lead seems to be. Even when it comes to interplay between some characters, you start questioning if its happening, and when the moments turn out to be actual reality, you start really getting a “that’s messed up” vibe from them.
Most of it comes down to the events, but it has it’s fair share of effects work as well. The audio comes off nicely, including the folly - one of the stars probably being that creaking house noise. To back up such noises as the pitter-patter of dog feet, you have what looks to be the grumpiest dog (largely due to his color pattern and the lighting), and a whole bunch of things on the dead-front. Walking-dead dad shows up a few times, with some nice face work done to emphasis how he went out without being so intense that it’ll churn your stomach. Old scars look well done, and things that may or may not be floating in jars are pretty identifiable once you see them.
The house itself is the only real setting of the movie. Of course, we do have some things like hidden rooms mentioned before, but largely just the attention to details help keep the rooms feeling diverse, as though they were different environments. Sometimes it’s a matter of the lighting, such as the green room, and other times it’s as simple as the size. Features are all quite extravagant looking - including a deep and full-sized pool with automatic cover - and at times will even play a role in things towards helping keep the watcher guessing on the sanity meter. Hidden closets in bedrooms, peepholes in walls, and an over abundance of paintings all help keep the place feeling creepy and unsettling, More than that, the general emptiness just helps feel uneasy.
They do some fun things with the camera work here too. Swoops, spins, pans and punches - it’s all visual flair to help keep the eyes entertained even at slow moments. It isn’t just that though, as at times those slow spins set you up for a tension-build reveal, and you are expecting there to be a ghost or something - anything - at the end of it, and yet it’s just there to be a spin. It’s a great sort of fake out, and makes up for the obvious jump scare had at other moments. Thankfully, the movie is largely not jump scares, specifically the loud chord kind, so most of the tension gets to stay on the psychological level. It does actually feel like there’s some deep things to think about here when it comes to things like bloodlines and the likes, including perhaps just mental health in general, but most of this is going to be lost until the end when everything starts to place itself in it’s designated slots.
If your looking for a good thriller, I’d say this one is a decent recent one. I’m not super huge into thrillers because some tend to have a bit of a longer burn to them, but this one keeps a decent pace and manages to keep the slower moments nice and filled with some guessing or tensions. The actors do a good job, the locations are nice to look at, and all in all they do a great job with the guessing just whats in the head and whats more dangerous than that. In the end though, it does unveil a mystery that I know I wasn’t even looking for through most the movie so despite the end feeling like it does a good job paying off, you aren’t entirely positive on just what that check was written for. It’s available on streaming services and elsewhere, so perhaps if your looking for a more mental horror to kick off your October fun, you could give this one a try.