DVD REVIEW: AUTEUR / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: GEORGE CAMERON ROMERO / SCREENPLAY: JAMES CULLEN BRESSACK, JD FAIRMAN, MICHAEL SEAN GOMEZ / STARRING: TOM SIZEMORE, B. J. HENDRICKS, IAN HUTTON, MADELINE MERRITT, ELI JANE / RELEASE DATE: TBC (UK), APRIL 21ST (US)
It’s been the subject of many a horror buff’s questions: what happened to director Charlie Buckwald and his notorious unreleased film Demonic? Only of course, it wasn’t as it’s a totally made up character and film, but that’s the premise of this pseudo-documentary helmed by the son of the legendary George A. Romero.
Jack Humphreys (Hendricks) is the filmmaker who’s compelled to find out the real story behind the disappearance of Buckwald (Hutton) and what really happened on the set of the film that made his final production so infamous. Through a series of talking head interviews – including one with an intense and brilliant Sizemore (playing himself!) – and vérité style shooting the story is gradually unveiled and we find out what happened, and the terrible facts behind the unfortunate filming of Demonic. This doesn’t pivot completely on the reclusive director, as the young documentarian finds out, as the actor in a key scene, Kate Rivers (Merritt) has a reputation among the crew which they seem reluctant to talk about, and could very well be the reason for the director going to ground and taking the film with him, but could it also be connected to the series of mysterious deaths which followed the film?
Though not entirely original in concept, the end result is an entertaining and absorbing seventy-fine minutes. Junior Romero shows great flair with his direction; avoiding riffing on his father’s famous feature debut, but keeping the aesthetic approach, what with the ‘real’ style of shooting and some naturalistic performances. Although it’s difficult to believe the ‘on set’ footage since it’s presented in the same quality as the rest of the film, that’s a minor quibble since the strength of the performances in the documentary itself is extraordinary.
The build-up to the denouement and the revelations of what really went on is interesting and certain scenes – particularly those involving Sizemore – are knife-edge tense and completely engaging. It’s a fine effort and worth a watch.