25th Sep2017

‘Demons’ Review

by Nik Holman

Stars: Miles Doleac, Lindsay Anne Williams, Andrew Divoff, John Schneider, Steven Brand, Kristina Emerson, Gary Grubbs | Written and Directed by Miles Doleac

DEMONS-KEY-ART

Eight years ago, Father Colin Hampstead oversaw an aborted exorcism that resulted in the gruesome death of seventeen-year-old Jewel Grant, in rural Louisiana. The deceased girl’s older sister, Kayleigh, grew immediately attached to Hampstead and sought him out, at first for grief counseling and then, for much more. Eight years later, Hampstead has left the priesthood and become a celebrated fiction writer, specializing in stories about the occult, and he and Kayleigh, now his wife, have a beautiful daughter and run a well-known bed and breakfast in Savannah, GA. When the couple agrees to host a wedding for one of Colin’s college friends, what begins as a Big Chill-type reunion turns into something much more macabre, as the seemingly omnipresent ghost of her dead sister Jewel compels Kayleigh to engage in bizarre, destructive behaviors that endanger the lives of both her friends and herself.

Demons opens with Colin (Miles Doleac), a defeated priest, moments after an exorcism ends with the death of a young woman. Eight years pass and we learn that Colin has left the priesthood, become a celebrated horror author, and has married Kayleigh (Lindsay Anne Williams), sister of the dead young woman. That is a lot to absorb in the first few minutes, but it presents an interesting concept: what happens when the exorcism is over?

You can find dozens (hundreds?) of exorcism themed horror flicks, but not many deal with the aftermath. I was onboard. The plot centers on Colin and Kayleigh opening a lavish bed and breakfast while hosting a friends wedding. A small, talented cast of characters rounds out the drama as we slowly learn about Kayleigh’s haunting visions of her dead sister, Colin’s life before and after the priesthood, and how these two have built a life together. But if you are wondering where the scares are, sorry, you won’t find them here. Demons isn’t a horror film, it’s a drama with some supernatural thrown in.

If that were the entire movie, I think we would have a winner. Unfortunately…

Woven in between the scenes modern day life, we flashback to the exorcism Colin was tasked to investigate. Andrew Divoff, of Wishmaster fame, plays the stereotypical crazy Christian, abusive father found only in horror movies and Stephen King novels. And the tropes don’t end there. Colin plays the unbelieving priest forced to question his faith, while Kayleigh is the rebellious sister who longs for a life away from the swamps. This is paint-by-numbers horror at its most uninspired. I wanted to skip these parts of the film, but I’m being paid not to. This half of Demons is a story we have seen before in better movies and it only serves to weigh down the better half.

Demons has a strong premise with a talented cast. I enjoyed the dramatic aspect of the film. I especially liked the fact that all of Colin and Kayleigh’s friends are ready to help the couple fight their demons. It’s good to see a horror movie where everyone is pleasant and reasonably intelligent. I felt the present day half of the story breaks from the tropes that the past half of the story seems to revel in.

Despite the shortcomings, I would still recommend Demons. This is a good movie with a likeable, well-rounded cast.

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