Delirium (2018) – 31 Days of Horror: Oct 29

by Jovial Jay

Delirium was another recommendation from some friends. We’ll see if they can still be called friends after I finish this film.

The trailer wants to make sure you know that the producers of Delirium have produced other films you’ve loved, like Get Out and The Purge.

Before Viewing

Based on the trailer, the film appears to show Topher Grace getting released from a mental hospital and being placed under house arrest in a large mansion for 30 days. His father has just passed away. His doctor gives him some pills and reminds him to trust his brain and not his eyes. He begins seeing strange visions and finds hidden cameras around the house. His brother, who is supposedly in prison shows up, but he doesn’t believe it’s real. He keeps taking his medication. Things get out of hand and it looks like he cannot discern imagination from reality. Or maybe someone is trying to scam him. There’s not a lot to go on, but Delirium is definitely a psychological thriller of some type.

Presented below is the Trailer for the film.

Spoiler Warning - Halloween

After Viewing

All in all Delirium was a lackluster film that could not decide what it wanted to be. Tom (Topher Grace) is released from a psychiatric hospital for unknown reasons. His parole office, Brody (Patricia Clarkson), takes him to his family home, a large mansion, where he is to be under house arrest for 30 days. His father died recently in the house, a victim of suicide, depressed since their mother had run off.

Tom has a strict regimen he must follow, including taking antipsychotic medication, in order to maintain his health. He also must answer a call on a special phone twice a day to let the police know he is still on the premises. Low on food at the house he calls the local grocery store and has food delivered by Lynn (Genesis Rodriguez), who seems to know a lot of information about him. Tom shares the story of why he was in the institution: when he was younger, his brother attacked and killed a girl, while he was forced to watch. His brother went to jail, and he was put in the hospital having plead insanity.

Tom discovers secret tunnels behind the walls, and a two way mirror in his parents bedroom with a camcorder and no tape. He sees people walking around the house including his dead father, and his brother Alex (Callan Mulvey), who is currently in prison. Freaked out, Tom calls Brody to come check on him one night. She has a drink with him, and comes on to him sexually. When he rebuffs her, she slams him into the table and takes his medicine, hoping he’ll “come around.”

Tom’s hallucinations get worse. His brother taunts him, tells him lies about the family, and forces him to call back Lynn, whom he’s grown fond of. Lynn brings Tom some new pills from the market and he settles down. Tom feels better for the first time in two days. But that is short lived when Lynn is attacked by someone. Tom carries her to get help just as Brody comes in. Thinking Tom has relapsed, she draws her gun and orders Tom to stop, but Alex, who really did escape prison, stabs her in the back of the neck killing the officer.

Alex takes Lynn and Tom hostage, threatening to kill her and forcing Tom to watch, just like when they were younger. In a hidden room under the pool, Alex forces Tom to open a safe they found, hoping the family fortune is inside. They also find a room where their mother is chained up, still alive, and missing her tongue. Alex shoots the mother, as Tom tries to wrestle the gun away. A slow leak from the pool above ruptures the piping flooding the room. Lynn and Tom escape, but the mother, with her last breath, chains Alex up, and the two of them drown. Lynn and Tom leave the house.

Everyone in life either wears a collar or holds a leash.” – Brody

I was hoping for a lot more from Delirium. It mentions in the writeups that the house may be haunted, so I thought this would be a great finale for the haunted house marathon. But the “ghosts” are all just psychotic manifestations within Tom’s mind. Almost everything that happens in the film is just his mind playing tricks on him. The only things that appear to be real are Lynn, and her several interactions with Tom, Brody and her interactions, and Alex’s appearances from the killing onwards. I believe that Alex’s first appearance is still Tom’s brain trying to make sense of things.

Given that almost none of what we see is real, it makes it hard to appreciate just what is happening. The pacing is uneven and there’s really no emotional depth. It’s just a 90 minute film of a man slowly going through stages of madness. There’s some odd editing choices, but that can be attributed to the director wanting to throw the audience off balance in what is real and what is not. I might be too generous on this however.

There are some terrifying elements to the film, but they are all in the past. The father was a cruel person who was hard on his children (Alex cries that their father made them who they are), he had secret passages in order to spy on his family, he had some sort of lock box that he would put on his wife’s head to blind and deafen her, and at the end we learn that he has kept his wife prisoner in a damp cell, having cut her tongue off. But Tom is incapable of dealing with any of these discoveries, since he’s not sure what is real and what is illusion. And since the audience is seeing everything through Tom’s eyes – from his perspective – there is no connection there either.

I also don’t know what to make of Patricia Clarkson’s character. She usually plays nice ladies, but her parole officer is cruel and bitter. She’s aware of the extent of Tom’s psychosis, yet she steals his medicine, presumably in order to make him more pliant for sex. It really doesn’t make a lot of sense.

The story is thin and not entirely interesting. There are a few jump scares, but nothing that will haunt the viewer afterwards. And the performances are all very shallow. Delirium is dreary and needs to get locked back up.

Assorted Musings

  • The quote above is one of several references toward dogs, including the fact that Tom was bitten by one of his dad’s dogs. It’s revealed that after his dad dies a dog eats part of the body, and the mother is also chained up like a dog.

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