The story is twofold, as a cop and a psychologist (Frank Grillo and Maria Bello) investigate the deaths of five unfortunate youths, killed while trying to communicate with ghosts – a matter depicted in lengthy flashback sequences. As the (apparent) lone survivor relates his story to the increasingly irate investigators, it becomes evident that there might just be more going on here than meets the eye. Cue a lot of screaming, running around in the dark under a night vision lens and a sequence of events that really, really gets on poor Frank Grillo's nerves. He missed date night with Maria Bello for this?!
High on scares and atmosphere but low on gore, Demonic is a breed of horror film we've seen lots of in recent years. Conjuring up memories of recent sinister stories and insidious ideas, it looks and sounds like great horror on the outside but feels empty and lacking at heart, where it counts. It's packed full of jump scares and strong imagery, but has no idea how to connect those to a story worth watching. As it is, it's like something 101 Films might put out (usually with a bright green Photoshopped picture of a house), albeit with a higher budget and classier cast.
Really, Bello and Grillo are the only reason to stick with Demonic at all. The pair lend it an undeserved air of gravitas, elevating the otherwise clichéd story into watchability. Once the makeshift Ouija board in the floor is discovered and people start dying the film hits its stride, but there's never anything as terrifying or well-constructed as the movies Wan has directed himself (the incomprehensible Dead Silence aside). That it ends baiting a sequel is, frankly, cheeky given its lack of ambition. Demonic? Not quite, but then, Derivative doesn't quite have the same ring to it.
CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: WILL CANON / SCREENPLAY: WILL CANON, DOUG SIMON, MAX LA BELLA / STARRING: MARIA BELLO, FRANK GRILLO, CODY HORN, DUSTIN MILLIGAN / RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 7TH