Fantasia 2015: The Demolisher
The Demolisher sets a startling tone from its haunting opening moments. A female officer, Samantha (Tianna Nori), is paralyzed by cult members while attempting to stop a ritualistic sacrifice. Unable to part with his obsession of what happened to his now wheelchair bound wife, Samantha’s husband Bruce (Ry Barrett), a cable repairman, takes it upon himself to seek vengeance on the world. Cloaked in full body armour, he roams the city’s back alleys in search of criminals on which to dispense his brand of vigilante justice.
Bound by his heightened sense of duty towards his disabled wife, Bruce not only wears their wedding rings around his neck, but also sets his watch alarm to ensure he is home in time to give Samantha her next injection of medication. The sense of compassion he has for his wife does little to quell the bloodlust that grows within him with each wrongdoer he punishes. Blinded by rage, and fuelled by an unfortunate incident during his day job, Bruce turns his focus to a young woman named Mary (Jessica Vano). Soon a relentless pursuit ensues that will push the limits of Bruce’s sanity.
Director Gabriel Carrer effectively constructs a hypnotic film that bravely takes audiences into the depths of a male psyche corrupted by violence. The Demolisher paints a haunting portrait of a man who is consumed by overpowering weight of the rage he bears. Bruce starts to hear things, becomes increasingly hostile, and eventually sees anyone and everyone as a justifiable recipient of his wrath.
While Carrer does a wonderful job building a bleak and menacing atmosphere, the performances are what help to push this film above its genre peers. Ry Barrett is stellar as the brooding titular character. Instead of using words, Barrett effectively expresses Bruce’s anger through body language. Every bulging neck muscle, clenched fist, and tribal beating of his chest, emphasizes the increasing decline from man to animal that Bruce experiences each time he puts on The Demolisher uniform. It should also be noted that Jessica Vano is solid as the resourceful Marie. She ensures that her character is not the typical damsel in constant distress. Vano portrays Marie as a woman determined to survive, even if it means confronting her pursuer head-on and using whatever she can to gain even the slightest advantage.
The Demolisher is a thriller that captures one man’s slow descent into madness in a tense and impactful way. Providing a blistering study of the addictive and destructive nature of rage, the film shows that the line between saint and sinner is often non-existent. Bruce is so blinded by hate that he ultimately fails to realize that, by taking up the billy club, he has essentially become the exact monster he original set out to hunt. Featuring a strong and chilling narrative, that is effectively sparse on dialogue, The Demolisher is a film that I can recommend.