27th Aug2021

Frightfest 2021: ‘Demonic’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Carly Pope, Chris William Martin, Nathalie Boltt, Michael J. Rogers, Andrea Agur | Written and Directed by Neill Blomkamp

When you give your horror movie the simple and uninspiring title of ‘Demonic’, you better be ready to do something big, something exciting! And if there’s any director that could do that with a horror movie, Neill Blomkamp might be the guy. I know his movies have divided opinion since his brillinat debut feature District 9 but Elysium and Chappie have both been full of originality and creativity so I was hoping he’d bring that into the horror genre.

There’s plenty of originality at least when it comes to the movies core concept and ideas. A woman unleashes demons and supernatural forces when she takes part in futuristic labortorary expertiments that enable her to talk to her her currently comatose mother. A mother she has not spoken to or liked at all for a long time. This is a very modern and technological possession movie – I guess all horror will ead that way at some point. Imagine if priests had high-tech to do exorcisms or technology that could make exorcisms a thing of the past and help them in different ways. These are the kind of thoughts and ideas that are bought up in Demonic.

From the very start of Demonic, it doesn’t feel like many low budget horror movies with similar tired titles. It looks much better, dialogue feels real, natrural and the acting is strong. Carly Pope in the lead role is a prime example of this and she is great throughout the movie. It’s a pretty intense role for the most part and she absolutely gets that.

Follwers of Blomkamp will know that he is big on visual effects, so it’s no surprise that they play a big role in Demonic. The characters enter into a kind of virtual reality world in their minds. But the visual effects are hit and miss to be honest. When things are good though, there’s some superb and creepy imagery. The fighting scenes bring in some really cool effects and the visuals are probably at their best when they are not so obvious and in your face. By far the scariest moment of the film isn’t particularly original and looks realistic as a character arches back on to her all fours and spedily runs across the screen.

Despite all its ideas though (and it could be argued there’s almost too many on show here), it never feels that exciting. At only about a hundred minutes long it still feels too long and that’s because it becomes a little bit predictable and even when things do throw a bit of a curveball, I doubt you’ll be invested enough to care.

It’s a real shame because if there was one filmmaker I’d like to have seen make a cool horror movie, Neill Blomkamp would have been high up on the list. Some times simpler is better and maybe a more grounded possession movie would have worked. He’s proven himself a very good writer and director but Demonic is far from his best work.

Demonic opened this years Arrow Video Frightfest on Thursay August 26th.


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