Demons is a supernatural horror movie written and directed by acting veteran Miles Doleac. Doleac also stars in the movie as a priest who is haunted by the ghost of a girl who died during a failed exorcism.
In-fact, the film, set 8 years after that incident follows the (ex)priest and his now wife, the sister of the deceased, as they engage in a spiritual head to head with the ghosts of the past. Whist the film flits between the present and the harrowing night of the exorcism the overarching theme addresses all manner of existential subject matter. Indeed, considering how tacky and cliché this film could have gone, it’s quite a sensible entry in to the genre.
No head spinning or pea soup here. No sir.
The acting is especially solid, although bear in mind it’s got a small cast of 10 or so characters. The lead Doleac (unsurprisingly considering his roster of previous acting credits) is standout with his character having a strong presence on screen whilst his antagonist counterpart offers a menacing contrast as the fanatical father of the possessed played by Andrew ‘Wishmaster’ Divoff. When you consider the films heavy hitting themes of abuse, spirituality and mutual healing, having a cast who can deliver with integrity was somewhat essential for the film to work. Indeed, investing in characters is what this movie does above all other elements; their dialogue in particular.
Whist the characters don’t have particularly interesting back stories, all bar one seems to have a field of expertise which is rooted in psychology and or sociology. I suppose all things said and done not every horror movie character has to be a dim-witted tart or walking hardon jock; that said, one of the cast is a nudist, so I suppose that particular box was ticked also. The problem is, to substantiate this each character must have their moment of exposition aka somewhat digressing psychobabble about anything they can – hell one woman even gets to explain the meaning of her tattoo in a particularly lengthy scene.
Indeed, this strength also acts against the film in some respects. As a horror film, something it clearly is at heart, it just isn’t scary. The film is not only devoid of jump scares, it really lacks very little in the way of the fear factor. Indeed, most of the tension scenes cumulate in a spectral figure popping into focus somewhere, and the exorcism scene is almost the ‘lite’ version of what you get in every exorcism movie.
From this respect, this movie is literally all talk.
This of course impacts on the pace of the film, and whilst you could not really say the film is boring (the script and acting ensures you are constantly engaged) it just doesn’t really go anywhere. There is a nice little twist right at the end of the movie, and I wish in a way that this had come about 15 minutes before to see how that would have played out.
That said, I wouldn’t have wanted it to run over another 15 minutes; at 1 hour 45 I felt I had my money’s worth.
Overall, ‘Demons’ (don’t worry the film’s title is a double entendre rather than just plain lazy) is a solid piece of film making. It possesses (forgive the pun) all the things horror films usually lack, but just none of the horror; that’s a shame really, as it’s an opportunity missed. Still, if you are into your exorcism movies, this one offers a refreshingly different direction in well-trodden territory.