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[Fantasia 2023] FILM REVIEW: Pandemonium

Pandemonium - Fantasia North American Premiere

Director: Quarxx

Starring: Hugo Dillon, Arben Bajraktaraj, Manon Maindivide, Ophélia Kolb, Sidwell Weber

Written by: Quarxx

Produced by: Isabelle Guenezan, Sandra Ianigro, Martine Melloul

Cinematography by: Didier Daubeach, Hugo Poisson, Colin Wandersman

Original Score by: Benjamin Leray


A car crash victim descends into hell, experiencing the pain of tortured souls along the way.


I had no idea what to expect from 'Pandemonium' and that's probably the best way to watch the film. It's more than a film, it's an experience, and for better or worse it's not an experience you're likely to forget anytime soon.

French writer/director Quarxx takes us on a profound and unflinching journey to Hell through the eyes of a self-confessed "good man" in Nathan (Hugo Dillon), who has awakened in the middle of an isolated stretch of road in the French mountains, astonished that he has escaped unscathed from his upturned car that has shattered into the side of the mountain. Except that isn't entirely true. He isn't unscathed...he's actually dead. He's a ghost and he's not the only one.

Minutes after Nathan discovers his wrecked car, another man appears. Daniel (Arben Bajraktaraj) is also dead. In fact it was Nathan that mowed Daniel and his motorbike down but unlike Nathan, Daniel died instantly and has been waiting on the other side for some time now. Daniel is the one that drops the truth bomb about their mortality, much to Nathan's chagrin.

Terrified at first, Nathan finally accepts his fate (though his refusal to abandon hope continues throughout the film) after two doors mysteriously appear before them. One white, one red. You can see where this is going right? What you won't be able to see is where it's going after he eventually walks through the correct door.

"You will have no other function than to suffer"

'Pandemonium' is about guilt and pain and suffering and the inevitability of eternal damnation. There is no escape. There is no mercy. Hell knows no forgiveness. On the way to his eternal suffering, Nathan encounters numerous corpses in a bleak and desolate, hellish desert. The lifeless bodies of tortured souls also damned for eternity. As Nathan touches these bodies he sees their past and so do we.

The first soul is Nina, a young, entitled princess type who demands that the world revolves around her. Her parents have been killed and her only friend in the world is Tony, the heavily disfigured monster that lives in her basement. The directional shift in tone feels a little jarring to begin with but becomes more acceptable after we get to see more of Manon Maindivide, whose character is a little bitch that she so obviously relishes playing. Tony is like a more sinister looking version of John Merrick but the relationship between the two is quite fascinating.

The next tortured souls are a mother and daughter duo. A harrowing story of exponential guilt and excessive denial. This one was tough to watch at times mostly thanks to the phenomenal performance of Ophélia Kolb. It's a brutal message to all parents that listening to your child is one of the most important jobs you'll ever need to commit to.

Loosely inspired by 'Dante's Inferno', Quarxx manages to seamlessly blend some dark humour in amongst all of the dread, and there is a lot of dread. It's grim and gruelling and offers little hope for anyone who has ever sinned but it's beautifully shot and well acted with some cool monster make-up. And there's a sequence towards the end that I know I'll struggle to shake from my memory.

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

- Gavin Logan

'Pandemonium' received it's North American Premiere at Fantasy '23 on August 6th

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