BARE BONES: DEMONIC (2021)

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DEMONIC (2021)

Demonic finds a woman named Carly (Carly Pope) finding out her mother Angela (Nathalie Boltt) is no longer in prison for committing mass murder, but now in a coma under study at the Therapol institute. They contact her and ask her to participate in a procedure where a virtual reality simulation will make it possible for her to communicate with Angela’s sub-conscious. The more she enters her mother’s mind, though, the more she begins to believe her mother’s problems are more malevolent than medical and that the mysterious doctors at Therapol may have a hidden agenda.

As written and directed by Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Chappie), there are some interesting ideas here mixing technology and religion. The idea of the Vatican using modern VR technology to track demonic entities, so they can be destroyed, is novel and intriguing. Despite some clever concepts, though, Blomkamp basically delivers yet another run- of-the-mill demonic possession thriller and not an overly original or effective one, once we get passed the intriguing first act set-up. Strip away the contemporary technology coating and it’s just another supernatural horror flick with someone forced to battle a demonic entity to save themselves and the ones they love. There are some spooky moments and the action is well directed, but after the interesting first third, it digresses into a movie we have all seen many times before. It’s worth a look, but it’s nothing overly scary, or memorable, and a routine film that disappointingly doesn’t make full use of what original ideas it does have.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: DEMONIC (2015)

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DEMONIC (2015)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Demonic is a supernatural thriller produced by James (The Conjuring) Wan and set in an abandoned house were a grisly massacre took place. In 1988 Martha Livingston had a group of friends over for a seance, which ended in her murdering all but one of them before killing herself. It was believed to be part of some satanic ceremony and the house has been empty since. The film opens with detective Mark Lewis (Frank Grillo) discovering the bodies of a paranormal investigation team inside the house with one, John (Dustin Milligan), still alive and two others missing. Now, along with police psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Klein (Maria Bello) the detective must try to pice together what happened, who did this and where the missing team members are.

Flick is written by director Will Canon along with Doug Simon and Max La Bella and moves back and forth between days earlier and present time to piece together what happened. It follows the paranormal team as they enter the house and start to discover something is not right there, to Lewis and Klein trying to get answers out of the dazed and confused John and from the evidence collected by the team. While the film is never particularly scary or offers anything we haven’t seen before, Canon does direct competently and the police investigation angle works well enough. The film really loses it’s grip in the last act, though, where it goes a little overboard and gets a bit silly and very cliché. The more subtle approach was working better and when the film goes all The Omen, it induces eye rolling instead of goosebumps. The flick did have some spooky moments and the house setting is creepy, but Canon and company opt for a more outlandish wrap-up and one we have seen countless times before. Too bad, as the film is somewhat entertaining till then and on a production level, it’s well made.

The cast is a mixed bag. Frank Grillo is strong as Det. Lewis and he is one of the reasons the film is as enjoyable as it is. He is a veteran detective faced with something out of his element in terms of the occult and supernatural and he is trying to make sense of a very unusual crime. Grillo creates a very likable character and conveys his frustration well. Bello is also strong as Dr. Klein. She is trying to get answers out of John through psychological means and the answers she is getting, puzzle and frighten her. Bello also creates a strong and likable character here. Sadly Dustin Milligan and the rest of the paranormal crew are kind of bland and are generic egotistical young hot shots. None of them are really that memorable or as strong as the veteran performers.

I was never bored by this and for the first two thirds was reasonably amused. We have a familiar story with some very common elements for this kind of tale, but early on they are used competently. The movie is never scary, but it had a few spooky moments until the filmmakers went all cliché in the last act and lost what grip they had. The film is elevated by the performances of two veteran actors, but at the same time, our younger leads are bland and forgettable. As a mild diversion it works fine, but overall very familiar, ultimately unremarkable and didn’t know enough to keep it subtle, which was working.

-MonsterZero NJ

 

2 and 1/2 axes, as veteran actors Grillo and Bello earn some extra points for this.

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