Review: Demonic

A police officer and a psychologist investigate the deaths of five people who were killed while trying to summon ghosts.

What to say about DEMONIC… well let’s start with in an era of PG-13/15 rated horror this is one of the better releases and it has its moments where you will leave your seat, I know I did a few times. Whilst investigating a house where a mass murder happened we are introduced to the story where there was only one survivor who the police now have in custody, some of the group were killed and two were still missing. That is the main premise behind the story and the police discover the video tapes that the group had been using as they recorded a séance as they were trying to summon up the spirits of those who had been murdered in the house.

In itself not a bad story, we’ve kind of seen it before but it works well between the present time as the police are investigating the case and talking to the sole survivor and the actual events at the house, flicking between the two stories as the movie progresses. As the title suggest by the name DEMONIC that demons like to possess and this led to a slightly more interesting story than your usual “people investigate a haunted house and then disappear” movie that we have seen time and time again. This takes it up a level and whilst it isn’t a bad movie it takes it from being average to actually being OK and watchable.

If you find modern day horror releases enjoyable then DEMONIC will tick your boxes, if you want something more or new or original then it won’t. I found it enjoyable enough but there’s no originality and a few scares kept me interested enough to stick with it to the end. Not a great release, not terrible either, it’s alright and that is the best thing I can say about it.

Thick Black blood? Check. Handheld camera sequence? Check. Unnamed cast? Check. Historical crash course title sequence? Check. Soundtrack of whispers? Check. CGI Crows? Ugh.

Small studios and even big ones churn out straight to video horrors at a incredible rate – and for a good reason, they are a very easy sell and cheap to make. Loads of films appear each year featuring the same pieces out of the boxed marked ‘creepy things’ smushed into a new pattern each time – more of the same ‘demonic seances’ ‘creepy buildings’ ‘rebellious teens’ and things going ‘horribly wrong’. Its not just run of the mill filmmaking; its boring, frustrating and unimaginative.

A perfect example of this is Demonic. Tagged with the strap line ‘From The Director of the Conjuring James Wan Presents’ thus attaching the director of great films like Insidious and Saw to this travesty of a film (he isnt the director – he was one of the producers). Its actually directed by Will Cannon the film (as is the norm with new Digital Kit) looks and sounds great, but its mix of handheld cameras mixed with police reviewing ‘found footage’ makes for a shoddy and at times poorly executed film. A huge amount of the copious jump scares are easily seen coming thanks to the ‘cut away’ in the edit used to setup the scare and the over the top performances from the relatively unknown actors docent help the matter. Its story line of students helping a mentally troubled friend to contact ghosts in an old house and then document the proceedings on tape to make a quick buck – isn’t original or even novel.

It may be slightly obvious by now that I struggled from start to finish to find a redeeming feature in this car crash. you’re spot on – I cannot comprehend why films like this are promoted while some truly amazing horrors cant even find distribution.

The question must be asked as Wan as made some incredible horrors since Saw – why is he involved as a producer with something so disappointing. Maybe the house it paid for is nice.
But for the rest of us – its going to be more likely seen at the bargain bin at Tescos in a month or two. Not only do I want my money back – I want the 90 minutes as well.

It’s funny how studios start printing big names on their film trailers even if that person is barely involved at all; it’s like they’re trying to aid its success but unfortunately no amount of help in the world can save this film. Dubbed ‘James Wan’s ‘Demonic, the trailer made it look like a half-decent film but that couldn’t save it from being predictable and dull.

At the centre of this boring and rather monotonous story is John (Dustin Milligan) who is asked by his friends and his girlfriend Michelle (Cody Horn) to go on a ghost-hunting venture to an abandoned home in the hope of capturing supernatural footage. Then, surprise, surprise things start going wrong and the group soon realise that they aren’t alone. The rest of the film flitters between that and the present day where Detective Mark Lewis (Frank Grillo – the only reason to watch this film) and psychologist Elizabeth Klein (Mario Bello) are trying to solve what happened.

This film falls into all the common traps of the very average, found footage (well, half) horror thriller where you can see the third act twist coming a mile off. It has an atmosphere to it at the beginning and there is potential there somewhere. The cast are all good and do their best with a rather minimal script. Frank Grillo is brilliant as usual and continues to carry this charismatic, sophisticated presence with him no matter what role he plays. Maria Bello also gives a solid performance, getting to show a fierce yet sensitive side as psychiatrist Elizabeth who desperately tries to uncover the truth. It’s Dustin Milligan who really shines here as John – a vulnerable and deeply disturbed young man. Milligan shows great leading man potential here and it’s a surprise he hasn’t been snapped up in more mainstream roles. However, unfortunately all this talent goes to waste in a film that’s quite poorly written, forgettable and rushed at the end.

It’s like sometimes films don’t quite know where they’re going and in the final twenty minutes they panic and quickly plant a twist or deliver a resolution that’s just so ridiculous that it’s not plausible in the slightest. As a result the rest of the film – no matter how strong – suffers. Demonic is the victim of one of these fatal mistakes and when those credits roll you’ll ask yourself why you just wasted 83 minutes of your life.

Demonic is out on DVD and Blu-Ray from 7th September 2015





65 thoughts on “Review: Demonic


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