Demons, from writer, director, and star Miles Doleac (The Hollow, Hallowed Ground) is described as a psychological thriller that marries elements of The Exorcist, The Shining and The Big Chill. And while an exorcism is involved, the film is much more Big Chill than chilling.
Colin Hampstead (Miles Doleac) left the priesthood after a failed exorcism resulted in the death of a young girl. Now a famous horror writer and married to the girl’s older sister Kayleigh (Lindsay Anne Williams, Doleac’s real-life wife). They agree to host the wedding of an old friend in their bed and breakfast. That reawakens the ghost of the dead girl.
The term demons can refer to not just the minions of Satan, of course. But also to more worldly tormentors such as psychological issues or addictions. This film deals as much with them as with the supernatural. At times, you’re not certain if there is anything supernatural going on, if it’s all in their heads.
At others, you’re very sure that the paranormal is involved. But with the focus on the characters and their issues, these scenes are a bit too few and far between. I should also mention there’s a scene just after the title card at the end of Demons that seems to give a definitive answer to which it is, so don’t turn it off right away.
Using a mix of what is happening now with flashbacks to the events leading up to the aborted exorcism and the death of Jewel (Ella Claire Bennett), Demons builds towards what is, in essence, a second, secular exorcism. The twin narratives are well integrated and flow well together. They lean a bit too much on real-world drama and not enough on scares for a genre film, though.
I can see why Demons was sold as a straight horror film. It sells tickets and pumps up the buy rate on VOD. But it does the film a disservice, as people expecting that may well get a negative opinion of the film. This is more of a Dark Shadows type horror/drama mix, but I can imagine that must be a lot harder to sell.
Which is a shame because Demons is good on its own terms. It has a solid script and cast that also includes John Schneider (Dukes Of Hazard, Penance Lane), Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster, The Hatred) and Steven Brand (Mayhem).
Uncork’d Entertainment has Demons available for streaming.