Decline Image


By Bobby LePire | May 7, 2022

Director Sam Mason-Bell teamed up with star Ryan Carter on the script for Decline. Set around Portsmouth, the horror-thriller follows the life of a broken-down young man, Ian (Carter), who’s angry at everyone all the time for no reason. To vent his frustrations, Ian stalks and murders anyone he believes is beneath him, including the homeless.

Inbetween each kill, Ian reminisces on why his relationship with Vanessa (Katrina Grey) ended. He recalls the fight they had after he embarrassed her at a work party for her career, as Ian is perpetually unemployed. Later, he thinks about the party itself, in which Ian becomes enraged over the simple fact that Vanessa is talking to the boss of the company.

None of these flashbacks are intended to excuse Ian’s behavior, as Decline presents no such thing. Instead, Mason-Bell and Carter highlight the man’s decline into his worst impulses, offering audiences a horrifying account of people who feel pushed to the sidelines but only are due to their repulsive actions and words. As such, this is a more challenging and bleaker watch than some other TrashArts offerings, as this story, much like Found Footage Of Fear: Digital Terror, is happening in the real world. Mason-Bell and his cohorts have seen the decline of a society that allows people like Ian to continue unabated without punishment and are justifiably scared.

To that end, Carter gives a solid performance as Ian. He brings the right amount of charm to hide his dark interior. When he offers a cigarette to a young woman begging some businessmen for one, it is easy to understand why she isn’t put off. But, the actor also brings the creep, keeping his anger always at a boil, effectively hammering the message.

“…Ian stalks and murders anyone he believes is beneath him…”

Grey is only okay. She by no means give a poor performance, but her and Carter’s chemistry is only so-so, meaning that whatever she might see in him, beyond his good looks, isn’t immediately clear. This impedes certain narrative moments, as viewers question why they got together. But, outside of that, Grey is fine, especially when she gets mad during the party, as mentioned earlier.

In terms of story structure, Decline does something a bit unusual. Instead of following Ian day in, day out, scenes introduce a prospective victim, who the audience gets to know decently. Then, somehow, that person encounters Ian, and later that same day (usually at night), he kills them. For some, the slightly meandering narrative might be frustrating, but it helps the startling nature of Ian’s behavior, as it does come out of nowhere the first time. Plus, many of these moments have minimal to no score, forcing all watching to actually notice the beggar or junkie.

Men like Ian are angry for no reason and blame everyone but themselves for their reprehensible attitude. A particularly interesting scene involves Ian explaining how his not applying for a job isn’t his fault, as the internet in the flat went down. Why couldn’t he have gone in person for a physical application? Why not call the place and explain the situation to work something out? Ian just can’t be bothered but feels owed a job anyway. People like him have proven dangerous, violent, and deadly the world over.

Cinema can offer an escape, but it can also reflect society in hopes of perpetuating change. Here’s hoping people heed the call and push back against such deluded insanity. Decline is frightening because it is soo close to the current state of the world.

Decline (2022)

Directed: Sam Mason-Bell

Written: Sam Mason-Bell, Ryan Carter

Starring: Ryan Carter, Katrina Grey, etc.

Movie score: 9/10

Decline Image

"…frightening because it is soo close to the current state of the world."

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