DERANGED

3.5 out of 10

Release Date: 3rd June 2013 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Neil Jones (The Reverend (2012) / Risen / Stag Night Of The Dead)

Cast: Marcia Do Vales, Victoria Broom, Natalia Celino, Tabitha Quitman, Pablo Olewski and Craig Fairbrass

Writer: Oscar Carrion

Trailer: DERANGED

Remember that scene in David Lynch’s Mullholland Drive in which a film director is forced by some creepy producers to cast a particular actress “this is the girrrrl!”?  That must have happened when casting the lead for Deranged. (Further research reveals that the leading actress, Marcia Do Vales, is one of the principal producers – rendering your lead-in to this review pitifully redundant – ed.)  Casting a charismatic actress that could act would have done Deranged a big favour.  As it is, what could have been a fairly competent slasher flick is reduced to a potty bedroom farce with axes.  I really have to stop opening reviews with a negative, what with Britpic being a site that champions all films British, but it in this case I’ve chosen to get the bad elements out of the way first. I promise I’ll be more positive next time (if I can). The first bad point and main one being this film needed a good producer and a talented lead actress, sadly Marcia Do Vales (THE REVEREND) has stretched her talents to breaking point. Ironically, she highlights this fact by playing a wannabe actress (accused by her friends of being pretty terrible at it) who invites her three best friends on holiday with her to a remote house in Spain. She is due to marry a rich guy that all four girls went to college with.  How these contrasting girls are friends is hard to believe as they all bicker and verbally attack every other every step of the way.  This actually helps the plot along and clouds the waters when they begin to get picked off by either a black dog, a stripper (PABLO OLEWSKI – WHITE COLLAR HOOLIGAN 2) or the mysterious friend of the family, Anthony (CRAIG FAIRBRASS – FREIGHT), who spends some scenes frowning through windows set to portentous music.

Inadvertent spoilers lie ahead, sorry.  The film does improve when Marcia Do Vales puts her feet up (for part of the running time) but there are some crucial elements missing to enable Deranged to be a truly effective thriller. The makers rely too heavily on the soundtrack to stand in for a prowling camera, sharp editing or other well established scare methods.  The script is OK but not brilliant but I did think that the plot had a nice bit of chicanery to it.  It’s true that it couldn’t wrong foot a twelve year old for long, but it still showed some thought and skill that would shame at least half of the slashers I’ve seen when it comes to the build up and killer reveal.  The remainder of the cast acquit themselves really well. The trio of friends are each given a cardinal trait rather than a character. We have a very fast girl (VICTORIA BROOM – STALLED), the mother hen (TABITHA QUITMAN) and a religious shrew with 1970s horror film boobs (NATALIA CELINO – UMBRAGE, THE FIRST VAMPIRE). The banal dialogue is quick in establishing the basics and role dynamics, even if some of their lines are terrible, they still seem to manage reasonably well.  Elsewhere, Craig Fairbrass puts in a very good performance which is little more than an extended cameo.  I’m glad his presence actually improved the movie in little more than a “meh” role, but then famous actors have been doing the same thing in Horror movies for decades and long may the tradition continue!  Like the characters, and possibly the producer/lead actress, Deranged is indeed deranged but it’s also quite watchable on its own terms. Compared to the director, Neil Jones last film, The Reverend, this is a tangible improvement in all departments. So it’s not as faint praise as that may sound. Although it’s still not that loud.

3.5 out 10 – Deranged could have done with being scarier and tense, less funny and having a leading lady that could a) act and b) speak English clearly. But maybe the film wouldn’t have existed without Marcia Do Vales’ involvement, so what we have is an oroborus, because there are enough salvageable and enjoyable bits and pieces to be had.  So it’s not a complete loss. I mean come on, it has a ‘possible’ killer stripper on the loose, or better yet a sinister Craig Fairbrass with a Barbie doll obsession “leave my DOLLYS ALONE!!!”, or wait, a dog with an accelerated strain of deadly rabies!?

See Joe Pesci II’s equally rabid and deranged review down below:

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

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One thought on “DERANGED

  1. DERANGED by Joe Pesci II

    For my ninetieth review I thought I’d go back to where it began. (That’s a lie, I didn’t realise until after I’d put the DVD on but it sounds good and serendipitous.) Yes, when I was recruited last year, my first assignment was a sympathetic review of violent vampire vigilante vicar movie THE REVEREND. DERANGED shares the same director. Had I realised, I’d have never let the disc sully my player. But, you know what, DERANGED is, in comparison with its predecessor, a masterpiece. Proof that film-makers can evolve and improve. True, compared with any other film I’ve seen, it’s (excuse language) shit, but still, Neil Jones appears to be on an upswing with this crazy Spanish-based thriller. Maybe he should just make Spanish films. That way I won’t have to watch another one ever again.

    Never has a film been so well named. This is a film of quite spectacular derangement. Where to begin? Well, let’s start with the DVD cover which shows a young woman with a shock of white hair, sitting on a swing, wearing a white party frock, covered head to toe in blood. It’s clear that she’s probably the deranged one, particularly as she is the leading actress and writer of the film’s story. Now, any regular readers of my rants will be aware that I am loathe to give anything away, but this DVD cover is basically THE FINAL SHOT OF THE WHOLE FILM. Therefore, seeing as the film-makers are so cavalier with DERANGED’s secrets I think it might (for once) be OK to give a few things away.

    Four old friends are reunited for a hen night in a creepy cottage of death in the middle of a deserted bit of Spain with only a demented dog and a dodgy male stripper for company. And what mysterious mystery lurks behind the locked door of doom? Dolls, obviously.

    But I’m getting ahead of myself. Our protagonists are each defined by somewhat narrow character traits. One (played by Tabitha Quitman) is boring and sensible. She is physically identical to the slutty one (as played by the quite abominably abysmal Victoria Broom) which was a bit confusing until one of them gets killed. Then there’s the religious virgin, (played by Natalia Celino). We know she’s religious because she’s got a crucifix. And finally there’s a Brazilian bride from a broken home (parents divorced! Horrors!) trying to make it as an actress (that would be Marcia Do Vales who also wrote and produced and is covered in blood on the DVD cover). Hmmmm, which of these could possibly turn out to be DERANGED?

    So, the friends arrive in Spain and it soon becomes clear that they all absolutely detest each other. The early scenes in which they are reacquainted and make their way to the house of doom are excruciating to watch. Truly, these sequences in the car and at Craig Fairbrass’s café contain some of the very worst acting and writing I have ever encountered. It’s as if they’ve only just been given the script five minutes beforehand, and Neil Jones has whispered into each actress’s ear a one word instruction: gobby, bored, excited, homicidal.

    Fortunately, things liven up at the dwelling of disaster. But dear lord, how did this lot meet? At college they claim, which is fair enough. And they’ve stayed together because? I mean for goodness’ sake one of them hates the others so much she fakes her own death and murders them all. Oops. And why? Because she’s DERANGED.

    But how does this come about? Well, it’s the rabid dog’s fault. Yes, this is a film which early on makes sure it deploys certain objects in plain sight so you can tick them off as they come into play: vicious dog, chainsaw, gun. The dog, named Max, seems quite amiable, but both Fairbrass and Do Vales claim that he’s a ruthless guard dog. Unfortunately he gets rabies and attacks Do Vales (or does he?) who drops dead (or does she?) and panic ensues, and can you trust a dodgy male stripper? Particularly if he’s busy deflowering a virginal religious nut with quite dizzying breasts that could have your eye out. (I wouldn’t usually comment but it’s impossible not to.) You see, the film does have character progression! The devout religious virgin (called Mary!) is repressed, but temptation gets the better of her so she steals the slutty one’s drugs and becomes a generously-bosomed drug-addicted foul-mouthed slapper within the space of about a minute. Elsewhere, the boring sensible one stays boring and sensible, and dies. But the slutty one (played with huge enthusiasm and little achievement by the aforementioned abominably abysmal Victoria Broom) finds unexpected reserves of energy and commitment and becomes a fighter (and I think the director must have offered her fifty pence for every time she managed to say ‘f***’). And Marcia Do Vales as the first victim (or is she?) gives a performance of fearless and exuberant melodramatic intensity (in a bad way). Apparently that’s how they perform in Brazilian soaps, and Do Vales’ acting style is certainly appropriate for that genre, and it’s eminently suitable for this film too. That you can’t understand her every word due to her thick accent is a bonus. That the film focuses on her character’s acting abilities adds a delightful level of irony. But credit where it’s due – I certainly believed her as a corpse. Wisely she surrounds herself with extremely poor actors (notably the abhorrent Broom), obviously I’m not counting Craig Fairbrass – he’s an acting legend. See Bula Quo!

    Let me make this clear, DERANGED is a terrible film. The climactic (unseen) axe vs chainsaw bitch fight isn’t as entertaining as it sounds, but it does adequately sum up the immense achievements of DERANGED: it’s dotty, stupid, badly thought out, dreadfully scripted, and acted with an engaging mixture of puppyish enthusiasm (from Max the dog) and woeful incomprehension of what acting actually is (that’s another dig at the awful Broom). I liked it.

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