After fatally bungling an exorcism, a priest called Colin hangs up the dog collar and becomes a famous writer instead. The past isn’t so easily left behind though, and Colin and his wife are harangued by the tormented ghost of her sister, as well as the sins of their past. Because the ‘demons’ are metaphorical too, see.
The low-budget horror scene is rife with cheap, easy to produce exorcism movies, and upon first glance, Demons does very little to re-invent the well-worn wheel. Thankfully, its path is a neatly paved one, and writer and director Miles Doleac steers with a steady hand. The story isn’t exactly original, but nor is it predictable either; an atmospheric slow-burner which rumbles on at its own pace, confidently and with good humour.
Although he gets to play the lead, Doleac is generous to his characters, allowing the ex-priest’s kooky friends to frequently steal the show (Steven Brand and Kristina Emerson are particularly fun as the cravat-wearing hipster and the nudist) and peppering liberally with flashbacks to a great supporting role for the always-wonderful Andrew Divoff. There’s a lovely care and attention to character in Demons, sorely lacking from most independent horror films of this budget.
What it lacks in true scares it recoups in mood and atmosphere, playing up the strong Christian themes and letting the booming timbre of the mighty Divoff do its thing. Fans of the Exorcist TV show should enjoy this one, which takes a similarly subtle approach to demonic possession and priestly guilt. Still, when it comes time to bring the goods, Demons largely succeeds there too, employing a handful of effective jump scares and narrative twists before the game is up.
More psychological study than pandering spook ‘em up, Demons 2017 is no Demons 1985 though, and largely remains a slow, talky character piece almost to the end. Some fat could undeniably have been trimmed, and it runs a little long, but its commitment is admirable. Demons lacks the physical entities, but its title is more than apt.
DEMONS / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: MILES DOLEAC / STARRING: MILES DOLEAC, LINDSAY ANNE WILLIAMS, STEVEN BRAND, KRISTINA EMERSON, ANDREW DIVOFF / RELEASE DATE: UK RELEASE TBA