'The Demolisher': Fantasia Review

The Demolisher Still - H 2015
Courtesy of Late Fox Pictures

The Demolisher Still - H 2015

A worthy addition to a familiar genre

A cable repairman attempts to exact revenge for a brutal attack on his policewoman wife in Gabriel Carrer's vigilante-themed thriller.

One doesn't normally think of Toronto as having particularly mean streets, but they certainly look menacing in Gabriel Carrer's hyper-stylized take on the vigilante thriller. Depicting the misadventures of an ordinary cable repairman who goes all Death Wish on society, The Demolisher, which recently received its world premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival, lives up to its title in its brutal intensity.

The title character is Bruce (Ry Barrett), whose inner turmoil is largely expressed through tortured body language. That is, until he dons riot cop gear and begins patrolling the city streets hunting down the members of a vicious cult-like gang that attacked his policewoman wife (Tianna Nori) and left her paralyzed.

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While at first it's possible to identify with this self-identified revenger, it soon becomes apparent that Bruce's thirst for blood will not be satiated by merely punishing the guilty. That's exhibited in a truly disturbing scene whose details won't be revealed here, but suffice it to say that the next time your cable guy makes a house call you should be very, very polite to him.

Eventually, Bruce fixates on Marie (Jessica Vano), who he mistakenly comes to believe is associated with his wife's attackers. Much of the film's second half is consumed with an elaborate cat-and-mouse game in which he relentlessly pursues the innocent young woman who, despite having both emotional and physical problems, proves highly resourceful in evading him.   

Thin on narrative and even skimpier on dialogue (Sample exchange: Sitting together over breakfast, Samantha comments, "Spring is here," to which Bruce replies, "I hope it passes quick"), the film is mostly notable for Carrer's (In the House of Flies) facility for creating an ominous atmosphere. Photographed by Martin Buzora in bleakly gorgeous fashion and benefiting greatly from Glen Nicholls' tense electronic music score, the film may actually prove too artsy to appeal to mainstream audiences looking for typical grindhouse fare.

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Featuring a terrifically visceral, near-silent performance by Barrett as the loving husband turned avenger descending into madness, The Demolisher marks its director-screenwriter as a talent to watch.

Production: Latefox Pictures
Cast: Ry Barrett, Tianna Nori, Jessica Vano, Duncan McLellan
Director/screenwriter/executive producer: Gabriel Carrer
Producers: Ry Barrett, Christian Burgess, Andrew Bussey, Martin Buzora, Gabriel Carrer, Duane Frey, Angus McLellan
Director of photography: Martin Buzora
Production designer: Vincent Moskowec
Editor: Angus McLellan
Composer: Glen Nicholls

Not rated, 85 minutes