The theme of demonic possession sometimes would seem to be the bread and butter of the low budget horror industry. Almost a sub-genre in itself, with a metaphorical ocean of white-collar have-a-go-heroes fighting off hells’ minions in the name of God. It is an extremely well-trodden path for cheap scares and ticket sales, however, recent offerings might suggest that the theme is running dry of new angles and originality. So how does Miles Doleac’s latest movie, the aptly named ‘Demons’ fare in this saturated market?
The film opens retrospectively, 8 years ago, with an exhausted and beaten priest, Colin Hampstead (Miles Doleac), having attempted an exorcism on a young woman, Jewel (Jessica Harthcock), who is believed to be possessed by an evil entity. The details of this event are slowly revealed throughout the film in the form of sequential flashbacks. Cut to present day, and we find the now ex-priest and Jewel’s elder sister Kayleigh (Lindsay Anne Williams) are married and have a young daughter of their own. Hampstead has given up the cloth and becomes a very successful novelist. The rewards of which are clearly to be seen in his lavish family home. All the memories of their horrific ordeal, long since faded away with the passing of time. Or have they?
The plot for ‘Demons’ takes place between two timeframes that gradually intertwine. The gritty flashback sequences tell the tale of a young woman who is supposedly possessed and the local priest who is called in to exorcise the demon. The present-day storyline follows a group of friends coming together to celebrate a wedding at the Hampstead’s house. However, with the help of a psychic, Kayleigh’s fractured memories are pieced together, and a ghostly presence emerges which will finally bring to light a very dark secret.
From the offset, this film looks and sounds wonderful. The opening scenes immediately create a dark and foreboding atmosphere which is carried on throughout the film. The camera work is crisp and spot on, the sound is atmospheric and ominous throughout, and the acting is accomplished and a pleasure to watch. If you scan the credits, you’ll find a long list of successful and experienced talent, including Steven Brand, Lindsay Anne Williams, and not forgetting the wonderful John Schnieder. In fact, everyone involved manages to pull off a good stint in front of the camera. Special mention is reserved for Andrew Divoff – the ‘WishMaster’ himself- who is by far the scariest thing in this movie. Forget demonic possession, Divoff’s angry puritanical father figure is for me the true demon of the piece. He is pure evil.
‘Demons’ is a great credit to Miles Doleac’s talent. He yet again takes the helm as writer, director, producer and lead in what is his third feature in doing so. I guess if you have a winning formula, you stick with it, and Doleac is the main ingredient to his own success. Plus, it always helps if you surround yourself with other very talented people. His fourth feature is scheduled for release 2018 and we shall once again get to see the Miles Doleac showcase, and I am pretty sure it will be another treat for the senses.
So, moving on from all the blah blah blah, what is ‘Demons’ actually like? Well, in my humble opinion, it’s good. It would have to be. Great acting, great sound and cinematography, a nice script and a compelling story. Despite all of this though, for me, it just didn’t shine. You would think with all those great ingredients that it would make for a big 5-banana monkey parade, but alas it falls short. But how? You may ask. Well in all honesty, despite everything this movie has going for it the story was the weak link. It was just not enough to satisfy the 1 hour and 45 minutes of screen time. ‘Demons’ has a dialogue-driven plot, yet at times the dialogue seemed irrelevant or unnecessarily over-developed. Don’t get me wrong, the story was good, but just not enough to keep me engaged. It was horror, but a slow and subtle type of horror, whereas maybe if it had dirtied itself a bit more and cut some of the drawn-out dialogue it could have been a real chiller. As it is, I’m afraid, it’s just not very scary and fails to leave much of an impression. Despite that, it still deserves 4 bananas.