Canadian indie shocker The Demolisher now on Blu-ray and DVD
Blessed are the indie filmmakers who can make a dime look like a dollar; who can maximize their production values and work with their strengths while finding novel ways to navigate their weaknesses. Most of the time, in the underground, it’s the reverse. But Gabriel Carrer‘s festival favorite The Demolisher is thankfully a member of the former club. It’s an moody, minimalist muscle-flex of a film that uses slow, fluid style, desolate locales and pulverizing music to tell the tale of a man driven to madness in his blind quest to right the wrongs done to the woman he loves. But the lines between right and wrong get blurred and said lady love might be closer to Lady Macbeth.
Ry Barrett stars as Bruce, a cable repairman whose wife has been rendered a paraplegic after a run-in with satanic biker gang. Donning riot gear, Bruce assumes an alter-ego Angel of Death persona that stalks the streets at night, tracking down and bashing in the brains of the gang while slowly losing his grip on reality. And though Bruce is clearly buckling under the wave of brutality he unleashes nightly, his wife propels him onward and onward he goes, right off the deep end. When he mistakenly targets an innocent young woman as his next victim. an endless chase sequence begins, with Bruce thumping his chest like a gorilla and the girl running for her life in a city that has gone to sleep.
Carrer — who produced The Demolisher via his Latefox Pictures imprint — is associated with Guelph’s Black Fawn Films collective (Bite, Antisocial, Let Her Out) and like the films pumped out of that machine, Carrer acts locally and thinks globally. Using Toronto exteriors and skylines, Carrer sets the more intimate action on the after hours downtown Guelph streets (presumably without a permit), which are Gothic, gloomy and completely devoid of human traffic, making the sequences of Bruce raging and falling apart feel like a dream, like he’s wandering a giant set.
And that’s The Demolisher‘s strength, in how it tells its story and mirrors the busted psychology of its characters using spare dialogue and letting the sound movement and locations tell the tale better than words ever could. In fact, if The Demolisher has a flaw, it’s that the dialogue — when it happens — is often unnecessary, expository and it weighs down the drama. The cast looks the part and Barrett is a solid, brutish yet sympathetic presence, but oration isn’t necessarily their strength. More is said with eyes and body language than any line read could ever hope to achieve.
The Demolisher is like an art house dream-state impression of the sort of anti-hero head bashers made in the early 1980s, stuff like Vigilante and The Exterminator films with more than a dash of Race with the Devil and it will no doubt find its cult. It certainly cements Carrer as one of the most singular cinematic voices working on the fringe, someone whose aim is to make intelligent, sophisticated, challenging and uncompromising art in a world that is obsessed with imitation and Netflix-cue baiting quick fixes.
Dark Sky’s Blu-ray release (the film is also available on DVD in Canada via Raven Banner) looks good in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and most importantly sounds amazing, with Glen R. Nicholls’ electro nightmare music screaming through the speakers. Extras include a behind the scenes feature, deleted scenes and footage from the Toronto After Dark post-screening Q&A. The Demolisher is a solid nerve-crusher made for more adventurous genre fans. Recommend.