top of page



average rating is 3 out of 5


James Learoyd


Posted on:

May 12, 2024

Film Reviews
Directed by:
Brandon Gotto
Written by:
Brandon Gotto
Margaux Colarusso, Annick Cornette, Michael Giuliano

There’s some strong work on display in the new horror film Pandæmonium from Belgium, but unfortunately it doesn’t always hit the spot. Horror, as a genre, is easy to get wrong – its tropes and expectations often cause a kind of laziness in filmmakers. Thankfully, this picture does not fall under that category for skilled, thoughtful choices are made throughout -- although narrative and technical issues unfortunately make themselves known as well.


Our protagonist is a young woman named Elizabeth. She’s currently working as a mechanic, but it quickly becomes apparent that past trauma has a hold of her, something she wishes to escape; this takes the form of her sick mother whom she hasn’t seen for four years. Upon returning to her gloomy childhood home, the piece takes the classic turns of possession and evil incarnate – and much of it is a hell of a lot of fun!


Before we can get to the fun, scary stuff, however, there are certain moments one must struggle through. Regrettably, the opening minute of the film is incredibly tiresome and fails to draw you in. We are shown the mother wandering through her home coughing and spluttering whilst the score screeches – there's no build-up and, for the viewer, little to no intrigue... it’s just a bit gross.


That said, much of this movie you can admire for trying to fire on all cylinders, particularly towards the end when it feels earned. Namely, all the cat and mouse stuff – the simple, setup and payoff horror work – is rather successful. Even though this takes place in darkness, it is the sign of a well-lit picture when artificial light convinces you of its source being, say, the glow of the moon or a flickering candle. It feels quite grounded.


In terms of audience psychology, there are certain elements of the cinematography and direction which – if altered slightly – would really add an increased sense of steadiness and energy to the visuals: for example, specific shots are perplexingly static for the type of frame it chooses to be. In a medium shot wherein the subject is the singular point of focus, characters will often wander into or out of frame, but the lack of camera tracking the movement feels unnatural. There’s also something about the slightly slow shutter-speed feel (more motion-blur) which doesn’t meld with this kind of story.


There are still some terrific shots on display – particularly in low light. Some of the earliest, simplest shots take place in a dream sequence: grass waving in the blue-tinted moonlight... it’s gentle yet haunting; very effective. Thus, Pandæmonium holds a mixture of strong positives and occasional mishaps. As a horror film, it mostly satisfies our desire for suspense and chills; however, it lacks a fully immersive quality... a grittiness greatly needed to sell the characters and their scenario. Audiences will enjoy the film’s use of location / set design, and the pulpy, fun nature of the piece’s latter half offers up an enjoyable time. The filmmaking does not wholly deliver but holds strong promise.

About the Film Critic
James Learoyd
James Learoyd
Indie Feature Film, World Cinema
bottom of page