«Demonic» / Demonic
Directed by Neill Blomkamp
Starring Carly Pope (Carly), Terry Chen (Daniel), Natalie Boltt (Angela), Chris William Martin (Martin), Michael Rogers (project employee) and others.
AGC Studios, Stability Studios
Release year 2021
The world learned about director Neil Blomkamp after the release of the feature film District 9. Made as a mockumentary, the science fiction ghetto alien was a big success at the box office and received four Oscar nominations. Later, the director directed two more films – the dystopia Elysium and the action movie Chappie the Robot.
In addition to these films, Neill Blomkamp created several other fantastic stories that he produced at his own independent film studio Oats Studios. Thanks to her, Blomkamp showed some of the most interesting short films that could well have turned out to be full-fledged blockbusters with a long runtime (among them Rakka’s fantasy about the invasion of ruthless aliens; horror about a monster from human bodies Zygote; an alternative look at the Middle Ages with the giant knights of Gdansk; stories about humanoid robots from the Adam series).
But Blomkamp chose a different idea for his new feature-length project. So if you’re expecting something similar to Oats Studios from The Demon, you’re likely to be disappointed. Although a non-standard scenario in which science fiction is combined with horror, there is still here.
The Demon introduces us to a heroine named Carly (played by Canadian actress Carly Pope, who previously starred with Blomkamp). The girl for many years does not communicate with her mother Angela, who is serving a sentence for mass murder. One day, the heroine is informed that her mother is in a pseudo-coma with an active mind, and the patient is being treated by specialists in biological imaging and neurology. Not fully realizing what is happening, Carly agrees to participate in the experiment – she gets into the simulation of Angela’s memories, where she manages to talk to her mother. But, as it turned out, there is someone else there besides them, and he will soon appear in Carly’s dreams.
To shoot footage that mimics the simulation of passages from memory, the creators of “Demonic” used the technique of volumetric capture. So it turned out to be a three-dimensional video that resembles a preview of a computer game in which there is no dynamics. But in general, there are not as many such scenes in the film as expected – after all, such real actions of the characters come to the fore much more often.
At some point, the film takes a clear direction towards horror. This is helped by the incessant music in the background, causing anxiety, as well as scenes in which the viewer is trying in every possible way to scare the viewer with classical tricks – an ominous suspense that emanates from the darkness, as well as the expectation that someone is about to jump out from around the corner.
According to Neil Blomkamp, he was inspired by the horror film Paranormal Activity, but in reality the director got something else. At first it is a clear bias in science fiction, then an attempt to show virtual reality in the cinema, then banal mysticism, and then a rather marvelous mixture of various ideas for which this story lacks space and budget.
I would like to note that “Demonic” was filmed last summer in Canada, keeping within 24 days. Due to the pandemic, the director kept the work on this project a secret, but the filming budget was extremely modest and certainly not Hollywood. This explains why some scenes on the big screen look very simple (especially in moments with mystical phenomena), and the final turns do not get a frightening scale. But even with such shortcomings, the overall picture quality, oddly enough, is quite good.
True, after watching it, one gets the impression that Demonika would make a good short film if, during editing, all plot pauses were cut out of the footage, in which nothing actually happens to the main character. It’s a little more pity that the main idea, in which they are trying to drive out demons with the help of technology, at the end of the story slipped into hackneyed cinematic mysticism.
Those who are still interested in this horror can already watch Demonik in cinemas – in Ukraine, the film was released a few weeks before the world premiere.
Pros: mixture of science fiction with horror; in general, a good picture for a low-budget movie; non-standard approach to mysticism in the first half of the film Cons: the original beginning slides into hackneyed cinematic mysticism; quite a few moments in which there is no plot dynamics Conclusion:
Horror by Neill Blomkamp, released by the director after a six-year hiatus from feature films. The film was not as interesting as the Oats Studios shorts.