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Jason Widgington [Celluloid 07.28.15] Canada horror thriller drama

The world, as vast as it is, can be a claustrophobic place when you spend all your time in your own head, with only one driving force keeping you going. As much as the trailer for The Demolisher - let alone the title of the film – would lead you to believe that it’s a throwback to the glory days of 70's/80's exploitation and violent revenge flicks like Death Wish, it’s really more of a dark and depressing character study of one man’s downward spiral into madness due to his unquenchable thirst for revenge.

With The Demolisher, writer/director Gabriel Carrer - in a notable departure from his more direct horror-centric previous films If A Tree Falls and In The House Of Flies - delivers a psychological treatise on the effects that a lust for revenge can have on a man’s psyche.

Bruce (Ry Barrett) is hell-bent on getting back at members of a cultish gang that crippled his policewoman wife, Samantha (Tianna Nori), and sets about doing just that, dressing up in riot gear and going on nightly patrols to find and exact revenge upon anyone who directly, or indirectly, ruined his and his wife’s happy life. It isn’t long before Bruce completely snaps and blood lust trumps his desire for revenge, leading him to target innocents and Samantha no longer tolerating Bruce’s "mission".

There is brutal violence on display for fans of that kind of stuff (count me among them), especially in the third act when Bruce sets his long-past-vengeful sights on innocent Marie (relative newcomer Jessica Vano), but when viewed with an open eye and mind, The Demolisher is so much more than that.

With strong performances all around - especially Barrett’s seething portrayal of the progression of madness within a man – perhaps the film’s best performance is the piercing electronic score by Glen Nicholls and the cinematography of Martin Buzora. Combined, they are their own character, managing the seemingly impossible feat of evoking loneliness and claustrophobia out of the sprawling urban landscape of Toronto.

While Carrer is still establishing his identity as a director, The Demolisher shows that he is more than capable of stepping out of the safety of the horror film bubble and delivering an action-packed thinking man’s revenge film.

The Demolisher is a powerful, thought-provoking, and gut-wrenching film that will leave you wondering just who – or what – the title is referring to by the end of it.

Recommended Release: Death Sentence

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