A group of friends convinces one of them, Billy (Troy Osterberg), to trek through the dark woods to an old, creepy house, and to stand on the porch. When he doesn’t return after a little while, the group goes to the house to investigate what happened to him, and what happened at the house all those years ago. Does that brief plot synopsis sound familiar? As if it has been used in so many movies set in haunted houses that accurately guessing the conclusion would be easy, just from this two sentence summary? Johnny Martin’s new pseudo-found footage ghost movie, Delirium, is that kind of a movie: predictable and unimaginative.
Director Johnny Martin does have one new trick up his sleeve, though. While the vast majority of the movie is shot with cameras one of the leading characters is holding, there are moments where we are watching them edit that footage, or setting up the cameras, that are not in this found footage style. This allows for better shot composition and lighting than is usually afforded to such movies. That one of the leads is a film student, and continually readjusts the handheld cameras for the best looking shots possible is a tremendous help as well. Delirium is gorgeous looking, and the astonishing visuals prove to be one of the only things to pull the audience through to the end.
“… an angry ghost, her tragic backstory, and the group of generic guys who disturbed her at the house.”
Outside of the stylish visual flair, the sound editing is top notch as well. During a tense moment, one of the friends becomes possessed by the evil entity, Lady Brandt (Elena Sanchez). She forces the possessed to speak in a fast, warped way, that sounds unnatural. It is a very creepy scene, which proves how much of a threat this ghost truly represents. Mathieu Carratier’s score adds an unnerving sense of scale and intensity to the proceedings as well.
While a movie is a visual storytelling medium, it is still important to present the story in an intriguing manner. The four credited screenwriters–Francisco Castro, Andy Cheng, (director) Johnny Martin, and Lisa Clemens–have failed to do so. A standard plot is perfectly fine when there is more to fall back on, such as memorable characters. Take The Conjuring and Poltergeist as great examples of what I mean. In their most basic, broadest strokes, they have the same plots: a family moves into a new house, supernatural shenanigans ensue until outside help from paranormal adept folks saves the day. Their specific focuses, the characterizations, and way of getting from haunted house to resolution vary greatly. In Delirium, there is nothing aside from the angry ghost, her tragic backstory, and the group of generic guys who disturbed her at the house. That is all there is, and the most gorgeous visuals in the world won’t save the blatantly apparent outcomes from boring the audience.
“…characters are so interchangeable and bland that they all might as well have been one person…”
An astute reader may have noticed that aside Billy and the ghostly Lady Brandt, no character names have been specified. This is due to the movie’s biggest flaw. The movie was viewed twice before the writing of this review began; the second time with the sole intention of getting who’s who 100% right. That did not happen. The characters are so interchangeable and bland that they all might as well have been one person. There is a character named Muzo, played by Seth Austin, and despite having seen it twice, I am half certain he just disappears from the movie. I don’t mean killed by the ghost, I mean was simply written out of the later half and no one noticed because each character conveys identical thoughts, actions, and motivations. Keith (Ryan Pinkston) is a film student, but, then again, it might be Chase (Mike C. Manning). Austin (Griffin Freeman) is a bit dorkier than the rest, I think. Maybe it was Eddie (Ian Bamberg), I literally have no idea. The actors themselves are capable, especially when it comes to selling the reality of the supernatural element, but are all generic pretty, white boys, which is another reason they all mesh together.
There are certainly worse horror movies, but aside from a strong visual presentation, Delirium fails to connect. The characters run together to the point of not knowing who is who, and the plot is so potboiler it is a tad tedious to watch.
Delirium (2017) Directed by Johnny Martin. Written by Francisco Castro, Andy Cheng, Lisa Clemens, Johnny Martin. Starring Ryan Pinkston, Elena Sanchez, Mike C. Manning, Griffin Freeman, Seth Austin.