On March 2, Dark Star Pictures will begin distributing the indie horror picture Dementer on digital platforms. While the basic plot description may not leap out at first, it’s actually more unique than is immediately apparent.
Katie is a young woman and former victim of a backwoods cult who managed to escape, and is now attempting to build a normal life. She takes a job at a care center for special needs adults bu to do some good after being surrounded by so much evil. But evil seems to have followed her there…
Stephanie is a woman Katie cares for, and she seems to be getting sicker no matter what Katie does. Katie now begins to suspect other forces are at work…and demonic in nature.
Dementer is a deeply personal film for writer and director Chad Crawford Kinkle. The character of Stephanie is based on his actual sister, who has low-functioning Down’s Syndrome and lives in a care facility like the one in the movie (except without the evil spirits hanging around). In fact he wrote a statement about the movie and his inspiration, which we’ve reproduced in full:
A year ago, my mother mentioned that she had a dream that I made a film with my sister Stephanie, who has Down Syndrome. I don’t think that I told her, but for a few years now I’ve had the idea of building a horror film around my sister.
Back in the late 90’s, I was in film school and even then the idea of making a film with my sister would enter my mind. But what would I do? A documentary? And why would I do it? To make people feel sorry for her? While my sister is “special,” the events in her life haven’t been such that would warrant a film, particularly a feature film.
After watching THE TRIBE, a film set in a school for deaf teens, I slowly changed my mind. What if I did make a film with my sister in the unique environment that she lives in and what if it was a horror film? What would that even look like? I didn’t know, but I felt the idea had something to it.
At first, it was more of a documentary style horror film with my sister as the main subject but that quickly turned into a story that would focus on another character that would come into my sister’s world. This made sense since I would be shooting the film on a tight fourteen day schedule. Because my sister is not a high functioning person with Downs, that is normally portrayed in movies and television, I needed another character for the audience to follow.
I knew that no matter what was in the script, the approach would be more like shooting an intimate documentary with only a few takes. I would be trying to capture as much as I would be trying to create. I needed a small cast and crew that I had one hundred percent trust in for practical and personal reasons. This led me to be the sole camera operator since I was familiar with the locations, which were in my hometown, and the other special needs adults.
After the film had been shot, I ended up being the editor as well. Not that someone else couldn’t do it, it was just that the footage and vision of the film was too specific and personal to properly explain. The resulting film is something that I’ve never seen before. While certainly a horror film, it needed another description like; experimental, abstract, dream-like, nightmarish or even art house. What seemed best is that it is more of a dark poem, since much of the script was written on intuition and not traditional story logic.
In the end, my hope is that DEMENTER will be remembered as a unique horror film, created under equally unique circumstances.
-Chad Crawford Kinkle
Dementer stars Brandy Edmiston, Katie Groshong, and Eller Hall. It will be available on digital platforms starting March 2, 2021, courtesy of Dark Star Pictures.