DEMONS (2017), the new film from writer, director and star Miles Doleac (THE HOLLOW) 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 THE HOLLOW, SHARK LAKE) 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 THE HOLLOW and Dolec’s real life wife). However when they agree to host the wedding of an old friend at their bed and breakfast it reawakens the ghost of the dead girl.
The term demons can refer to not just the minions of Satan of course, but to more worldly tormentors such as psychological issues or addictions and 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 to few and far between. I should also mention there’s a scene just after the title card at the film’s end 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), the story builds towards what is, in essence a second, secular exorcism. The twin narratives are well integrated and flow well together but lean a bit to much on real world drama and not enough on scares for a genre film. It’s not bad, (even though I’m not a huge fan of dramas), it’s very watchable even.
I can see why DEMONS is being sold as a straight horror film, it will sell tickets and pump 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 with a solid script and cast that also includes John Schneider (DUKES OF HAZARD, MY FATHER DIE), Andrew Divoff (WISHMASTER, THE HATRED) and Steven Brand (MAYHEM).
Uncork’d Entertainment will be releasing DEMONS to VOD and theaters October 6th.