Pandemonium: Exploring the Afterlife in Quarxx’s Latest Film

Pandemonium, A Horror Movie Review by Hope Madden

Pandemonium

An awful lot of films are preoccupied with what, if anything, comes after death. Pandemonium, the latest feature from French filmmaker Quarxx, takes you there. No guessing.

Nathan (Hugo Dillon) is our journeyman. As the film opens, he picks himself up from the road—a treacherous hillside lane shrouded in fog. Nathan eyes his overturned vehicle and can’t believe his luck, but soon sees the cyclist (Arben Bajraktaraj) he knows is pinned under the wreckage. Except he’s not. He’s fine and standing on the same roadside.

Come to think of it, Nathan feels pretty good, too, considering.

In a lot of tales, we’d work out the details with Nathan until we all come to the obvious conclusion that Nathan didn’t survive that accident. But Quarxx wastes no time. He knows that you know, and quickly he complicates the scene with a third crash victim and two doors. One looks inviting, beautiful even. The other does not.

What’s fascinating about the entire film, and Dillon’s performance, is the polite if reluctant civility, the resigned obedience. Nathan begrudgingly does what he’s told rather than fighting in a narrative move that’s simultaneous cynical and polite.

Nathan’s story is essentially the wraparound tale of an anthology. Early circles of Nathan’s hell involve witnessing the sins of others by way of two separate short horror films. The first, starring a psychotic little princess named Nina (Manon Maindivide, brilliant), is the highlight of Pandemonium. Told with macabre whimsy and no mercy, it’s a welcome dash of color.

The second short within the tale is also solidly told and a bit more desperate. Again, Quarxx’s tone changes as a grieving mother loses her grasp on sanity.

And then, back to hell with Nathan in yet another dramatic tonal shift. Within the span of a barely 90 minutes, Quarxx explores a number of wildly different horror styles, each pretty effectively. The final act is the weakest, and though it has merit as its own short, as a closing chapter for the feature it leaves a bit to be desired. 

But Quarxx is bound to hit on at least one tale that will appeal to every horror fan. It’s not a seamless approach, but it’s never less than compelling.

Pandemonium

After realising he has died at the scene of a car crash, Nathan descends into the depths of hell, where he is doomed to experience the pain of tortured souls along the way.

Director: Quarxx

Writer: Quarxx

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  • Hope Madden

    ope Madden, a graduate of The Ohio State University, is an author and filmmaker.In addition to 12 years at the independent weekly newspaper The Other Paper, Hope has written for Columbus Monthly Magazine, The Ohio State University Alumni Magazine, and is a published poet. Her first novel, Roost, is out now, as is the anthology Incubate, which includes her short story “Aggrieved.” She recently wrote and directed Obstacle Corpse, the first feature film from MaddWolf Productions! She also writes for Columbus Underground and the UK Film Review.In Central Ohio, you can catch Hope on TV every Friday morning on ABC6/Fox28’s Good Day Columbus.

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