Thursday, May 10, 2018

Review: Delusion

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2018
Images from the Internet

Written, produced and directed by Christopher Di Nunzio
Creepy Kid Productions
85 minutes, 2016

Here is the truth: I watched this film last year, and wrote a review. Computers being computers, the Word file became corrupted, and the critique went bye-bye. I needed some time to regather before I watched the film again, and as life happens, I forgot about it. Well, one year and two weeks later, I gave it a second viewing. I’m glad I watched it again, because I caught things I missed the first time, having had time to process.

Technically, as the director informed me, Delusion is a “psychological thriller,” and while I don’t belabor the notion, I believe that’s an incomplete statement. There is also a metaphysical level that either takes it beyond the thriller concept, or perhaps is concurrent to it, but either way, it’s something that I like. Thrillers can be fun, and adding the supernatural to it definitely bumps it up a notch.

David Graziano
The plot is like a Buddy Holly song: on first listen, it’s a simple ditty that’s fun to sing along with, but then, when you dig a bit deeper, you see that the chord structures and rhythms are a bit more complex than you first realized; “Maybe Baby” is the example on my mind right now. Like that tune, our protagonist, Frank Parrillo (David Graziano), seems like a simple man (meaning uncomplex; he’s a software developer who telecommutes). He is middle-aged and lonely since his adored wife Isabella (Carlyne Fournier) had died mysteriously three years before. Then, a letter from her unexpectedly arrives in the mail, as he explains to his caring nephew, Tommy (Justin Thibault). Before her passing, he was a typical Eastern Massachusetts (Carver, about 45 miles south of Boston, though the film is shot in a 50 radius of Boston) lug who dismissed Isabella’s suggestions on serenity, but now he’s following her lead post-mortem, mediating and taking life as it comes.

Jami Tennille
He drops into a storefront psychic named Lavinia (Irina Peligrad) on a whim and she warns him of an evil surrounding him. Around this time, he meets a mysterious and scarred man named Grayson (Kris Salvi), and a beautiful (and age appropriate, I’m happy to say) woman who seems to be sashaying everywhere he is, named Mary (Jami Tennille). It’s no question these two are the nastiness Lavinia foretold. How can you tell? Not only do they smoke a lot, but they both draw on the cigarettes really hard. He tends to talk in riddles, and she essentially starts the conversation with “So, you want to fuck me?” Both turn up (at different times) unexpectedly in his home.

Okay, that’s about as much of the plot as I’m gonna give. Mixed in with the madness, there are flashbacks to conversations with his wife, leading up to some missing plot points, and contrasting with his relationship with Mary in the same way Tommy is the anti-Grayson. And that the spirit of Isabella is popping in and out is weighing in on Frank.

Irina Peligrad
Being “psychological,” the big question to ask is how much of this is meta-reality, and how much of it is in Frank’s noggin, considering he’s taking pills because of a breakdown at some point earlier. Plus, in a literary way, one can see the whole devil/angel-shoulder metaphor here, with Mary on one side, Isabella on the other, with Grayson and Lavinia trying to turn him one way or the other.

Despite the languid pace of the story and dialog, and the occasional arty nature of the visuals – and yes, dialog – the film actually is able to keep attention. There’s even a little bit of blood spilt here and there, again, sometimes real and sometimes metaphorical in a dream. Even with all the angles and the coloration of many of the shots, the level of abstraction is rarely high enough to be obtuse (other than occasionally with Grayson’s verbiage).

Kris Salvi
The film also begs the question just who is the titular delusional one? And just what is either delusion or is merely something beyond the knowing? In other words, like that Buddy Holly song, there are different levels to the film in which it can be viewed, but I do believe the deeper the viewer seeks the more satisfaction there is to be had.

Considering the relatively diminutive central cast members (with many smaller parts), there is a decent amount of mayhem to be seen, and even a bit of viscera thrown in to keep it even more interesting. While the few moments of gore are not necessary to the story in the long run, it certainly makes it satisfying for what is unfolding.

Carlyne Fournier and David Graziano
Most of the acting in the film is very “non-acting” and natural feeling, and it took me a while especially to get used to Graziano’s laissez-faire style of going with the flow, but it actually is more of an accomplished build-up of a character. There felt like real affection and chemistry between Graziano and Fournier, which helped the story. Personally, I thought Salvi was trying too hard, and actually would have been more effective to be looser rather than tenser, considering he’s the malevolent Loki or devil figure… or perhaps he’s actually a warning angel; I guess it’s up for interpretation.

The fact that it is debatable for discussion on who is good and evil, and who is delusional – and I would go as far as to say what the definition of delusion in this context is – shows a sharpness of the story and writing. The way the film is shot and the effects added to it (again, the occasional odd angles and hues), I would posit, puts the viewer into the possible delusional position as well.

If you’re looking for a slice-'em-up, even with minimal gore here, this is not for you. If you would like to take a break from that mindless splatter, or just want to think about what you’re looking at, this is a nice little micro-budget indie that stretches itself to fit that bill.

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