As I sit for for 48 hours digesting what I saw in the latest feature from filmmaker Jessica Cameron’s MANIA two things come to mind. Perpetual dread and growth. No matter the scenario or the players the game of love can be a sick and twisted fabrication of our own insecurities that blind us from the truth. Cameron’s cult enriched film is a cataclysm of a downward spiral of events between two souls whose only ending is impending doom. Filled with American independent essence MANIA is prism of relentless open road terror that smells of yesteryear.
The reason behind the thoughts of growth are primarily due to work of Cameron as a filmmaker and superb acting of Ellie Church as (Mel). While Tristan Risk (Brooke) was no slouch in what she delivers in the film it was Church who made MANIA for this reviewer. From seeing her as the lead in A TIME TO KILL the overall shock value of the film never allowed an appreciation for what Ellie was capable of. MANIA on the other hand allowed it to flourish which is in big part to the direction and writing of Cameron for this particular character. There is an annoyance you feel while watching these two lost individuals that makes you the viewer also become entrenched. No more than during the times of the interactions between Brooke and Mel as you are compelled to reach through the screen to grab Church and scream “why!” “Why are you allowing this to continue?” Clearly not allowing the film to shoot as straight as two crazy women on a road trip Jessica Cameron adds new levels to her work as a filmmaker and writer. The colorful and erotically induced sequences that captures the mind of Mel extends the depths of how far MANIA can take you before it’s climactic conclusion takes you over the brink. Cameron shocked and disgusted you with TRUTH OR DARE now she drenches your psyche in purgatory with MANIA.
The dread yes the dread is alive and pumping hot with thick blood. The carnivorous role played by Risk mesmerizes the viewer into a psychotic trance. Combined, the two create a lesbian SID & NANCY if you may where their addiction comes from mayhem and a unnerving bloodlust. There is a slow burning nature behind the film which for some will be less than desirable. There are many reasons for MANIA to take shape in such a way but for some viewers it may go over their head. The good thing about Cameron is just when you have had too much and the dread is starting to overpower you she has a way of taking the film in another direction that shows even more anguish but is very welcoming. MANIA has the type of setup to be a very polarizing film. While I think a negative response would be unjustified it’s almost unavoidable in the current spectrum films reside in. Still the growth of Cameron as a filmmaker and of Church as an actress mixed with the chaotic nature of Risk makes MANIA unforgettable.
MANIA is directed by Jessica Cameron and stars Ellie Church and Tristan Risk. It is currently making festival runs and will be playing at the RIP Film Festival on Halloween. For more information on when MANIA may be coming to your area keep an eye on their FB page at: