DEMONLOVER (2002) / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: OLIVIER ASSAYAS / STARRING: CONNIE NIELSEN, CHARLES BERLING, CHLOE SEVIGNY, GINA GERSHON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
With national corporations vying over worldwide exclusive rights to the latest in cutting edge hentai, up-and-coming executive Diane de Monx (Connie Nielsen) finds herself way in over her head when one of the companies she is working for is, in fact, a front for an online portal to the Hellfire Club. An interactive website which gives users the chance to watch real women tortured in real time, Diane soon discovers that ties to the Hellfire Club stretch further than she could have ever imagined.
A neo-noir thriller with ties to New French Extremism, Demonlover is a hauntingly atmospheric look at the desensitisation of sex and violence in the 21st century. Having shocked many upon its original release, it’s now coming onto Blu-ray for the very first time with a whole load of extras for fans to sink their teeth into. With programmes such as Black Mirror having shone a light on the darker side of technology, it’s no wonder why a film such as Demonlover has managed to find an audience after all these years. Despite a couple of fond pop culture references from the past, it still manages to remain timeless due to society’s increasing use of technology for nefarious means.
Written and directed by Olivier Assayas, there’s an almost nightmarish quality to the film with themes such as paranoia and deception managing to translate not just through the script but from the camera work too. There’s a bleakness that shudders throughout with all of the characters hiding behind a much more sinister facade that’s slowly unveiled through the course of the story. The music by Sonic Youth does a great job at capturing the atmosphere whilst also being the perfect accompaniment to the events that slowly unfold. A collage of experimental sounds, there’s an industrial dread which is constantly present, adding to the claustrophobic nature of the film.
Much of the praise, however, has to be given to Connie Nielsen who is without a doubt one of the biggest highlights of the film. Managing to bring the most out of a self-contained performance, she manages to effortlessly play a character on the absolute brink without ever slipping into the stereotypical damsel in distress. Cold hearted and stubborn, her character manages to be by far the most interesting in the film as she stumbles from one bad situation to another whilst refusing to give into the horrors that surround her.
With enough twist and turns to keep viewers on the edge of their seats, Demonlover is a true cult classic that’ll please fans of foreign cinema. A cyber horror which still looks just as good today as it did back then, Olivier Assayas has created something almost prophetic in the way that modern society has continued to use the internet for unthinkable acts of terror. Whilst some may argue that the film was made way ahead of its time, now is the perfect opportunity to watch it in all of its glory.
Special Edition Contents: Brand new 2K restoration of the 121-minute director’s cut, approved by Olivier Assayas, High Definition Blu-Ray (1080p) presentation, Original 5.1 DTS-HD master audio, Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, Audio commentary by writer/director Olivier Assayas, New visual essay written and narrated by critic Jonathan Romney, Peripherie de Demonlover, an hour-long behind-the-scenes documentary directed by Yorick Le Saux, Archive interviews with Olivier Assayas, Connie Nielsen, Chloe Sevigny and Charles Berling, SY NYC 12/12/01: The Demonlover Sessions, a fly-on-the-wall documentary about the recording of the music score by Sonic Youth, Q&A with Olivier Assayas filmed at the Wexner Center for the Arts in 2003, Extended version of the Hellfire Club sequence, Original theatrical trailers, Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon