DEMONIC  (REVIEW)
Dir. Neill Blomkamp
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
The bond between a mother (Nathalie Boltt) and daughter (Carly Pope) is reconnected when the comatosed mother is put forward for advanced medical experimentation. It soon becomes apparent that the reason for their relationship breaking down and her eventual sleep could be down to demonic possession. Using advanced technology, Carly is able to connect to her mother's conscience digitally allowing onlookers to view her state of mind.
The plot itself is straight out of THE CELL except instead of a murderer, it's a demon. With view being streamed back to the physicians, it's more like THE SIMS than THE MATRIX with isometric views and glitchy graphics that show potential but really don't work. The outside perception really takes away much of the horror and as a result it's like watching a 90s videogame with some interesting cutscenes.
The cast do well to hold their own, especially Pope, and the visual effects are actually really good, not to mention the creature design which, when it's eventually shown, really is a thing of beauty. There is no denying that on paper, everything about DEMONIC should work, unfortunately in reality and on screen, very little actually translates well. The digital graphics, third person perspective and intermittent interviews with those conducting the experiment, it all feels too much like a video game but without the immersion. There's cliché galore with ancient burial grounds, demonic possession, the early warnings ignored and exorcist soldiers, wait what? DEMONIC has plenty of originality but it all just comes across as rather silly against a very seriously played backdrop of characters. The genuinely terrifying parts (of which there are few) are all enveloped in dreams and feel so abstract from the films technological roots that it's more a case of what-the-Hell, rather than scared-as-Hell.
There's never a physical presence of threat until the last 15 minutes and by that time any interest is holding on by a very thin thread. We understand there's a demon but outside dreams and off screen deaths, there's very little to be afraid of.
A bag of ideas that certainly have merit but strangely for a director who has given us big budget sci-fi, seems to be uninitiated in the core element of horror, tension. Blomkamp has missed the bar here but not through lack of trying and it's unfortunate as there are some interesting paths trodden, however their destination is as void as the digital world. Take away the main pull of the film and we have a bare bones possession film that comes full circle proving that despite it's fancy gimmicks, this has been seen and done before, much better.