REVIEW: DEMON LEGACY / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: RAND VOSSLER / SCREENPLAY: TRACY MORSE / STARRING: ANNAMARIA DEMARA, MATTHEW CURRIE HOLMES, KATI SHARP / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Demon Legacy was crowd-funded which, all the film’s problems aside, opens up a great relationship between fans and filmmakers, cutting out studio bureaucracy and keeping backers involved and updated every step of the way. That alone should be celebrated. Horror especially is continuing to flourish with some of the genre’s best and bravest going the fan-funding route alongside fresh faces. But applause for Rand Vossler’s (who co-produced Oliver Stone’s masterfully anarchic Natural Born Killers) and Bob Gill’s Demon Legacy should end there.
The Ouija board is a tired trope and, if horror films are to be believed, all teens have one stashed away. As a means of possession, Ouija has always fallen a bit flat, after all it was just a parlour game. Throw in a bit of cod witchcraft and unfortunately it fails on the scare front.
Billed as a cross between The Evil Dead and The Last Exorcism, Demon Legacy lacks any of Sam Raimi’s twisted humour or ingenuity. The journey up to the cabin in the woods is remarkably similar to the one taken by Ash and co. It doesn’t have a tree rape, though, and that’s one over on The Evil Dead, at least.
The opening credits have more in common with a '90s TV show, something that wouldn’t have felt out of place scheduled between Charmed and Buffy. Newspaper cuttings pinned to the wall have always been a sure-fire way to show a character’s obsession, but for once will bookmarking articles on an e-reader suffice?
The score, a crack at John Carpenter’s piano compositions for Halloween, is indicative of low budget horror and, while that’s certainly never a bad thing, the rest of the film just isn’t up to scratch. The slo-mo effects and double vision are as cheap as they are ineffective, and again give the film the feel of a trashy '90s flick. The fast-mo is laughable and while the effect Vossler and Gill are going for has been used effectively (and sparingly) elsewhere, in Demon Legacy it only serves to tickle your funny bone. Similarly, the nudity is neither necessary nor relevant, and notice AnnaMaria Demara and her cast mates are young, skinny and busty. Funny that.
The ranger is about the only half interesting character among a host of hammy performances (including a particularly patronising English accent from Canadian born Matthew Currie Holmes) and while the horror-verse is populated by unengaging characters, there’s usually one worth liking, even if it is normally the killer or ghoul. At least there shouldn’t be a sequel.
Every once in a while the horror genre is deconstructed and redefined, the cabin-in-the-woods subgenre being no different. Lars Von Trier’s highly stylised Antichrist (2009) breathed cadaverous new life into the familiar, and in 2012 Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods offered another fresh spin on the idea. AnnaMaria Demara running through the woods wearing only her nightie in a film that sticks rigidly to the ‘rules’ set down by Wes Craven in Scream... you do have to ask, is this really 2014?