Despite being deep in the heart of Louisiana, not one person in the cast sports even the slightest hint of a southern accent. No better way to start off this review than with such an observation. I’m surprised James Wan attached his name to this project. While only a producer, one would think that the mind behind the terrifying Conjuring series would have ensured that a movie entitled Demonic would have been a bit more gripping. To cut to the chase, what we have is one in a long line of “ghost hunter” movies: Team finds a haunted house where a murder happened. Team enters house. Things goes wrong. Team members die one by one. It’s the same, tired theme we see rehashed over and over again in the horror genre. If there is one more used than this, it would be demons, and this film manages to use them both in one shot.
The house in question was the site of a series of murders decades ago. One of the team members has a family connection to these killings. Upon investigating, the team gets locked in the house by a roaming demon and the murders become reenacted upon them. I’m sure that sounds familiar. There is a policeman (Frank Grillo) involved in the investigation of the murders happening, and the story is told in interview/flashback form. His wife is a psychiatrist (Maria Bello) who does most of the interrogating of a key witness to the crime.
As the investigators get picked off one at a time, there is no sadness or feeling felt by the audience because of the simple fact that none of them are likeable. Short horror movies like this often do little by way of character development, but it is nonexistent here. There’s the obvious asshole, the Asian nerd, the dumb blonde, and the cautious boyfriend/girlfriend duo. We know hardly anything about them, and nothing in the writing or acting causes us to ponder one iota about whether or not we want to get in someone’s corner. They can all die as far as we’re concerned for the simple hope that the movie would then end. Even the demon is not around enough to inflict any trauma on our brains.
Demonic is a well-made film, but that does not mean it’s enjoyable. It could have turned into a found-footage movie, but thankfully, strayed from the path. The story shows promise because of the flashbacks, but it never goes anywhere. No one, from the actors to the writers, have the ability to take it off the ground and run. There are a couple of decent jump-scares, and gore is [refreshingly] at a minimum. That’s about all. The twist at the end, if you can call it that, is underwhelming and barely delivers the “Wow!” factor that the filmmakers were hoping for. You may guess it halfway through the movie. This is nowhere near the worst horror movie I’ve ever seen. It’s kind of like when you do something wrong and you ask your parents if they are mad at you, and they respond with, “No, we’re disappointed”. That’s my feeling at the end here. Disappointed. 4 out of 10 stars.
Also starring Cody Horn, Dustin Milligan, and Scott Mechlowicz. Directed by Will Canon.