Waking by a wrecked car on a narrow strip of road, beyond it the valley dropping away to fog, a vague shroud over the world, Nathan is both surprised and relieved to fine he has no obvious injuries though there are gaps in his memory, the moment of impact and immediate aftermath understandably missing in the circumstances; more surprising is when he sees the biker whom he swerved to avoid, Daniel, who more swiftly accepts what Nathan denies.

To be sad, to be scared, to have regrets, to be apprehensive; all normal feelings in life, and apparently in death, two gates appearing before them, one white marble beyond which harps and trumpets play, the other a darker stone, the only sound the screams of the tortured, and denied access through the former it is apparent through which they must pass, their sins precluding any chance of salvation.

Written and directed by the multimedia artist known as Quarxx, Pandemonium opens with an immediately engaging premise grimly realised on a chilly roadside of bleached colours as snow begins to fall and the men are shepherded towards judgement, Nathan (Hugo Dillon) hoping that mitigating factors will be taken under consideration while Daniel (Arben Bajraktaraj) protests he should not be condemned for an accident beyond his control.

The other realm, however, offers a segue, as Nathan stumbles across those who have gone before and experiences their stories; the child Jeanne (Manon Maindivide) who lives in a house of creeping shadows who blames the terrible things which happen on Tony (Carl Laforêt), the monster who lives in the magical cave below, then stressed working mother Julia (Ophélia Kolb) whose daughter Chloé (Sidwell Weber) is mercilessly bullied at school.

The tone remaining unremittingly bleak through the vignettes of misery and tragedy, they do not add to nor dovetail with the framing story other than that they are witnessed by Nathan whose own passage through Hell is sidelined until a coda which borders on cop out where the promise of eternal punishment is commuted by clerical error, the profound opening of existential angst and agony transmogrified into a generic horror movie torture basement.

Released on Blu-ray by Arrow, their edition of Pandemonium features multiple interviews with Quarxx covering different aspects of the production alongside special effects supervisor Olivier Alfonso who created “Tony le Monstre,” footage from the Parisian premiere, a “making of” featurette and the original trailer as well as an illustrated booklet and poster.

Pandemonium will be available on Blu-ray from Arrow from Monday 27th May



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