I saw this one pop up on Netflix and after watching the trailer I thought I’d give it a chance. It looked like a found footage flick and while I normally don’t like those, I’ve found a few that I did enjoy. Plus, this stars Maria Bello, and I’m pretty much a sucker for anything that she is in. Imagine my surprise when I realized that this would fit nicely into my Demon Possession marathon! I guess that might be a spoiler… but look at the title.
The narrative of this movie is played out with a ton of flashbacks. It jumps around the timeline to tell the story. For my recap I’m going to approach it more traditionally. This is your basic haunted house movie with a demonic twist. You have six kids that head out to Livingston House to make a documentary about their search for ghosts. They arrive, don’t notice the spooky stuff happening around them and then decide to do a séance. Really people does that seem like a good idea? Well it isn’t because the other characters are a police detective and a psychologist trying to figure out why there are three bodies, a traumatized survivor, and two people missing. Again, this is told out of order, so we get to see what happened in a series of flashbacks and memories from the survivor they are interviewing.
This movie surprised the heck out of me. My first surprise was when I realized that only part of the movie was going to be presented as found footage. This was very clever as the other characters are watching it right along with us trying to figure out what happened. The footage they recovered from the equipment was damaged, so techs are trying to piece it back together. This adds to the mystery and fun as they run between that and trying to interview the survivor. Of course, you also have the search for the missing kids. I also thought it was a nifty idea to trick the audience into thinking they were watching a ghost story when it ends up being something else. Demonic is the kind of movie that will keep you guessing until the very end. And yes, we get a couple great twists before the credits roll.
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The haunting is presented with a lot of old school tricks as well as some new ones. There are doors that slowly open behind our characters, creepy banging sounds, figures standing in the dark that only the audience sees, and of course the séance. These are the classics, but the filmmakers double down with a couple excellent jump scares with faces appearing in cameras, arms grabbing at characters, and some nifty use of night vision. There is a lot to like about the movie. Demonic does a great job blending both the old and new to give the audience everything it could want in a spooky movie.
The cast ranges from very good to great. The kids are all played by good actors, but the highlight really is the detective, portrayed by Frank Grillo. Comic book nerds might recognize him from the Captain America movies where he has a small supporting role. Here he has the chance to get some serious screen time and takes full advantage of it. Maria Bello, whom I’ve already mentioned, is also quite good as the psychologist trying to sort out what happened to the kids. She does skeptic to believer very well.
Admittedly I don’t watch a lot of new horror so I’m sure some fans are going to list off a bunch of Blumhouse movies that are scarier. I’ve never seen any of those movies and don’t have a desire to. Demonic was an impulse watch that as an old school horror fan I found entertaining and can highly recommend.
© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer