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Director Cameron proves she is a special talent with 'Mania'
With "Mania," director Jessica Cameron and screenwriter Jonathan Scott Higgins have crafted a riveting, bloody road picture that maintains a relentless aura of uneasiness. Moments of tenderness between the two women are but brief respites as Mel and Brooke descend into their personal hell in which the demon is a mental disease that thrives on bursts of madness, striking without warning. There also are moments of dark humor to go along with the cringe-inducing violence. "Mania" is the story of two the lesbian lovers, Mel (Ellie Church) and Brooke (Tristan Risk), whose lives unravel as a result of Brooke's increasingly volatile psychological disorder. It is Mel who must absorb the brunt of what is happening, and while she bravely tries to salvage what sanity there may be left in her relationship with Brooke, her own subconscious conspires against her, as she endures some dark, disturbing but erotic dreams, along with visions of her own demise as well as Brooke's.Thus Mel is torn apart by her desire to protect the person she loves more than anything and the realization that that there just is no way out. Cameron's keen directorial eye is evident as she utilizes frequently close-ups of both Mel and Brooke, and this is a challenge that the two actresses meet with skill. Church's performance reflects the desperation of Mel mixed with an unconditional love for Brooke that continues to energize her objective to find peace and a solution despite the hopelessness and continually escalating carnage. Risk, who has deservedly earned a reputation in the horror genre as a mesmerizing performer, has an ethereal presence that makes Brooke especially tragic. She is a gentle, often vulnerable soul with some crossed wires that transform her into a beast. In a lot of ways, Brooke is the more stable of the two women in that she knows she is beyond help other than a lifetime locked away, but passively goes along with Mel's plans because that is the best way she can show her love for Mel. Talented and dedicated people like cinematographer Josh Chiara and music composer Ken Jacobsen and many others were instrumental in helping Cameron package together a tight, gorgeously filmed 88-minute exploration of love and terror and madness that has audiences reacting with enthusiasm.
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