Horror is usually a young person’s genre, with films filled with pretty people, adorable meatsacks who exist only for the slaughter. Casting a film with ordinary middle-aged folks should lend more credence to a scary movie. If terrible things can happen to your uncle, they can happen to you. It brings the terror home.
That’s the ideal, anyway. If Christopher Di Nunzio’s film, Delusion, can be praised for anything, it is the casting. These are just regular schlubs dealing with some weird things. The main character, Frank (David Graziano), receives a letter from his wife, who has been dead three years. This brings him a sense of closure, and he allows himself to fall for a mysterious woman named Mary (Jami Tennille). Even though he has bad dreams warning him against this decision, and is even told by a psychic not to pursue the relationship, he goes ahead. This is a horror movie, so you already know he does not choose wisely.
Di Nunzio introduces elements into the film that are not fully fleshed out or explained. Here’s a strange letter from Frank’s dead wife. Here’s Santa Muerte, the Mexican saint of death. Here are a couple of Lynchian dream sequences. All interesting things by themselves, but they never quite weave together into a cohesive plotline.
Delusion is also a strangely quiet film. Scenes that should be tense and disturbing are not, and it’s simply because of a lack of music. There’s nothing to underscore the weirdness of these sequences, nor is there anything to intensify it. That leaves the visuals out in the cold, weird but not frightening.
There’s also some self-indulgence on Di Nunzio’s part as editor. In some scenes, it feels like we wait 20 or 30 seconds for characters to respond to each other. Delusion never finds a proper pace, and that lack of pacing taxes the attention span of the viewer. One could see how some watchers could end up wandering away.
If there’s anything that grounds the film and makes it worth watching, it’s the performance of Jami Tennille as Mary. She’s beautiful, to be sure, but when the madness begins to peek through her persona, Tennille runs with it. She echoes Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. It’s a fascinating performance, one that deserves to be seen by the masses.
Tennille’s performance is the major saving grace for Delusion, which ends up being its own worst enemy by using too little editing and not enough music. However, having a cast of more mature people in a horror movie is a step in the right direction. Di Nunzio is a better director than he is an editor, and some of his shots show a remarkable eye for composition. It’s not as if Delusion is without merit. It is worth a watch, but perhaps only one.
Delusion is available from Amazon and Amazon Prime.