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Pandemonium (2023) Review

At some point in our lives, many of us have found ourselves stranded at the side of the road. And, at the start of Pandemonium, not to be confused with Pandamonium, that’s where Nathan (Hugo Dillon, The Sisters Brothers, The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon) finds himself. The difference between him and us is, he’s dead.

Understandably, when the motorcyclist he collided with, Daniel (Arben Bajraktaraj, The Piper, The Last Boy on Earth) tells him that neither of them survived the crash he’s skeptical. The sight of his own corpse helps him face reality, but it’s two sets of doors opening out of the fog, one emitting the sound of harps and quires, the other screams that force him to face reality. One of them leads to the stairway to heaven, the other the highway to hell.

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It’s not hard to guess where Nathan ends up, and, when he steps through the door, it looks like he walked into the final scenes of Fulci’s The Beyond, a film the director cites as an inspiration for Pandemonium. Only here there are bodies strewn on the ground, and when he touches the corpse of a young girl, identified as Nina in the credits but referred to as Jeanne (Manon Maindivide, Irréductible, Drops of God) in the film, he sees the story of how she ended up here.

Writer/director Quarxx (Marginal Tango, All the Gods in the Sky) hasn’t so much made a horror movie as he has a variation on Dante’s Inferno where he uses hell and its denizens to examine human nature. Guilt and denial come into play even before the gates of hell open, and that theme is continued in the story of this young psychopath who cheerfully admits to killing baby birds, but blames the murder of her family on Tony (Carl Laforêt, The Black Gate, The Deep Dark), a monster who conveniently lives in a nearby cave.

Originally made as a short entitled ‘Les Princesses font ce qu’elles veulent’, ‘Princesses do what they want’ in 2021 it’s a nasty little story with an appropriately chilling ending. You would think that after that, Nathan would avoid contact with any of the other bodies, but no, so we get to find out how Julia (Ophélia Kolb, The Passengers of the Night, Class Act) came to be here.

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Pandemonium’s second story, while no less grim, is a bit more familiar. Told in flashback, Julia is a busy single parent, so busy that she can’t see the effects relentless bullying is having on her daughter Chloé (Sidwell Weber, Among the Living, We Were Young). At least not until she finds her dead in the bathtub, having taken her own life. Then, unable to admit what has happened, she tries to carry on as if nothing has changed.

While some of the scenes of what Chloé had to deal with are horrifying, this segment was more depressing and disturbing than horrifying or shocking. Pandemonium ends with the revelation of Nathan’s fate and what awaits him in the afterlife. Some of this is pretty horrifying, especially if you believe in heaven and hell. And that brings us to another question, do any of them deserve what “Divine Justice” has condemned them to?

Certainly, Nina’s actions would warrant it if she were an adult, but does a nine-year-old have a full grasp of their actions? And would they do things like that without some form of mental illness? Does being a workaholic parent warrant it? Or in Nathan’s case, surprisingly it’s not for killing Daniel, but for the mercy killing of his wife? Quarxx seems to be saying that no matter how shitty we humans can be, the deities we’re raised to believe in and worship are infinitely worse.

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Unfortunately, he goes a couple of scenes past where he should have stopped, ending Pandemonium not on a crushingly grim note, but with scenes more suited to a cheesy Omen knockoff. It doesn’t ruin the ending’s impact, but it certainly diminishes it.

Pandemonium is driven by some excellent performances and the work of three cinematographers, Didier Daubeach, Hugo Poisson and Colin Wandersman and topped off with some convincing effects, even the CGI creature we see near the start looks good, The result is a film that will leave you feeling anything but good, but in the best possible way.

Arrow Video will debut Pandemonium on its streaming service in the US and UK on May 27th.

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Where to watch Pandemonium
Our Score

3 thoughts on “Pandemonium (2023) Review”

  1. hello,

    Is there sex or nudity in the film? Because if there is, we wouldn’t watch it, thanks for the answer.

    1. Was that you asking on Reddit as well?

      There is a naked female at one point, but it’s not a sexual scene and, as I remember, they film it so all her bits are hidden.

  2. Yes, I wrote there too. If you do feedback/review. Could you write at the end if there is sex or nudity in the film or series? Or any sexual content that doesn’t fit there? Thank you

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