The Demolisher (2015)

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After Samantha is brutally attacked by a gang on the job, she becomes handicapped and her husband Bruce does all he can to help her live her life and get better.  While being the dotting husband she needs, he also has a need to exact revenge on the gang who did this.  He embarks on a vigilante journey to avenge her and to try to put his mind at ease.  This however leads him down a path of violence and paranoia.  His mind begins to slip and he begins taking his issues out on a young woman who they previously crossed paths with.

Writer/director Gabriel Carrer creates a situation in which the need for vengeance, to take care of things, is logical and feels like the right thing for the lead to do.  He also creates a layered lead for which this vengeance is necessary to control his environment and not fully lose the mind that is already slipping away from him.  This is done through scenes where the lead is the care giver, followed immediately by scenes with a high level of violence.  The scenes that work the best here are the silent ones.  They are filled with tension, some being unnerving, almost stressful.  The scenes with dialogue, more interactions between the characters, have many issues, one of which being that the dialogue feels forced at times.  This may be due to writing, directing, a lack of chemistry between the actors, or a mix of these, it is hard to pin point but it makes those scenes less effective than the silent ones.

In the part of Bruce, carrying the bulk of the film is Ry Barnett who shows concern for his cinematic wife while also being completely relentless in how he takes his vigilante act to the extreme.  He manages to show a soft side at times and a more brutal one at others while also developing the mental breakdown of his character.  His delivery of dialogue in some scenes feels forced but this very well may be due to the writing as this dialogue is not as good as it could have been.  In the part of Samantha, the now handicapped wife is Tianna Nori who brings a vulnerability and sadness to her character who seems more resigned to her situation.  She looks to have given up a bit and that is reflected in her actions and how she does things as the film goes on.  She brings a bit of balance to Barnett’s performance in that she is a softer character.  Rounding out the lead cast is Jessica Vano as Marie, an ex-addict who becomes an obsession to Bruce as his mental issues grow and he sees her as having wronged his wife and him.

Her character feels more like a horror film “final girl” in how she is written and interpreted in some scenes while she comes off more realistic in other scenes.  It’s hard to tell if this is on purpose or if it’s artistic choice made by Vano.  Her performance does stand-out but more because it doesn’t seem to fit the ensemble at times. The Demolisher is a fairly good film which could have been much more effective had it not been bogged down by its own dialogue and by Bruce’s obsession in the second half turning a film about loss of ability, physical and mental, the reaction to this, and how a couple handles a bad situation into a film where the chase and end goal of catching one girl becomes the sole focus.  This takes away some of the film’s effectiveness and makes it feel like it could have so much more.