Lost in the Reel’s Video Review of Demonic.

Neill Blomkamp’s first feature film District 9 was easily one of the most exciting directorial debuts ever, when it was released in 2009.  It also just so happens to be one of my favorite science fiction films of all-time.  So, it has been disappointing to say the least, that the writer/director’s work since then, with Elysium and Chappie, were both so underwhelming.  But, the idea of Blomkamp coming back for another shot with a low-budget sci-fi/horror film really excited me.  So, it is with a heavy heart that I say that his new film Demonic, although brimming with ingenious ideas, is easily his worst film to date.


The film follows Carly, who through an old friend, is brought back into her estranged mother’s life through extraordinary means.  Her mom has fallen into a coma and a group of scientists and doctors are keeping her alive.  These professionals convince Carly to go into a virtual reality simulator in her mother’s mind, to get to the route of why she has fallen into this coma and to possibly get her out.  But, as she reaches her mother in the virtual world, she realizes that a demon has possessed her and will do anything possible to be released into the human world.


The best thing that I can say about Demonic, is that it is filled with really fantastic concepts.  The idea of merging horror with sci-fi in this virtual world is fascinating.  And there are also some crazy plot twists later on in the movie that could have created something really special.  But, the problem is that none of these ideas are executed properly or in a way that makes sense.  To be completely honest, this film is a hot mess.  And knowing that it comes from the hands of an Oscar-nominated writer/director who is capable of so much more, also makes Demonic even more of a shame.

IFC Midnight is producing the film, and the studio knows a thing or two about low-budget horror.  The thing about a lot of their movies though, is that they make up for the lack of funds, with their creativity.  And unfortunately, I never felt that way with Demonic.  The acting ranges from decent to downright awful, but I also don’t necessarily blame the performers here.  It is Blomkamp who never sets them up for success, with his lacking direction and jumbled mess of a script.  

And while there is creativity within the confines of this film… it also mirrors so many other better horror and sci-fi flicks that have come before it.  Just recently IFC Midnight released Come True, which shares many similar concepts and was also made on a show-string budget.  And as Demonic progressed, all I wanted to do was turn it off and go watch that film instead.  


The other glaring problem is that neither genre Demonic is trying to pull off ends up working.  The horror is just not there… this film is not scary in any way, shape or form.  And many tired tropes of the genre, like the possessed entity contorting its body onto all fours, are used here as an excuse, rather than actually being frightening.  And the sci-fi elements like the virtual reality world created are interesting, but never fully fleshed out.

Yet although I do think Demonic will probably end up at the bottom of the bargain barrel, soon to be forgotten… within it, I still see Blomkamp’s potential.  It’s hard to look at his filmography and not feel like this is a case of a director who began his career at the very top and has only regressed since then.  His ideas are there and you see those glimmers of brilliance throughout, but those things don’t matter if you can’t nail the execution.

Official Trailer for Demonic.

Demonic will be In Theaters Friday, August 20th.

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