top of page

Pandemonium Review: A Fantastical Descent into Hell

Two men hug each other while it's snowing
Image courtesy of Arrow

By Sarah Musnicky

A blend of fantasy, realism, and horror, Quarxx's latest film, PANDEMONIUM, may not be the easiest to digest in its pursuit of metaphor and philosophy. One man's descent into hell and everything it entails in Quarxx's universe makes great use of the anthology format. While the threads are loose between the segments, one thing becomes clear. Humanity, in all of its various intricacies and perspectives, is at the center.

Quarxx wastes no time throwing the audience and its lead character, Nathan (Hugo Dillon), into the fire. The film's intriguing opening sequence, where we watch the central Nathan existentialize over his demise has us learning alongside him. It is through him and Arben Bajraktaraj's Daniel that we learn the rules of Hell versus Heaven. It is easy to cast judgment, but all sins are unforgivable in the end. An argument philosopher Thomas Hobbs might support.

Where PANDEMONIUM may lose viewers is in its exploration of other's stories. Quarxx does little to acclimate the viewer as we learn of other characters' sins. However, if and when the viewer catches on, a whole treasure trove of characterization and understanding is unlocked. This is most apparent in the little girl, Nina's (Manon Maindivide), story.

From beginning to end, PANDEMONIUM is an exquisite sight for the eyes. From the snowy limbo beginnings to an intricately designed mansion plucked out of a fairytale, the cinematography delivered by Didier Daubeach, Hugo Poisson, and Colin Wandersman is nothing short of breathtaking. The framing of shots pairs well with details taken in VFX, costuming, set design, and makeup to craft a sense of fantasy throughout most scenes.

The score, composed by Benjamin Leray, aids in this highly immersive fantastical experience. From the beginning, notes of sorrow are interwoven throughout. Listening to the composition in the background, we know before Nathan even learns of his death what may come. The music is here to deliver a story as much as the dialogue is.

Much like Dante's Inferno and Milton's Paradise Lost, PANDEMONIUM does require some patience. Quarxx is not here to hold anyone's hand as we follow Nathan into hell together. What we make of the film's lessons is left entirely on the audience's shoulders which, in today's lack of media literacy landscape, may be a curse more than a blessing. However, what the viewer brings into their viewing of PANDEMONIUM will hopefully foster some introspection.

PANDEMONIUM is now streaming on ARROW in the US, Canada, UK, and Ireland.


bottom of page