Some years after getting out of jail, Sam Parsons is working a crappy job so he can do his best to provide for his wife Courtney and their daughter Harper and keep the roof over their heads. But something else is under that roof with them, seen first by Harper and then by Courtney. An incredulous Sam initially refuses to believe that there’s anything to be scared of but he’s quickly convinced too that something is indeed there.
This all happens in the opening 20-minute stretch of The Demon Inside. Writer and director Joey Moran works at trying to build an atmosphere of foreboding - half glimpsed shapes, demonic groans - that might be familiar but when used right can still really work. And then the film takes a turn to something completely different. To try and find out what is in the house Sam and Courtney employ the services of a reality TV show called Ghost Killers, who - as their name suggests - not only hunt the spirits but apparently destroy them for good too. They are for the most part fame-hungry idiots preening around allegedly haunted sites. Their visit to Sam’s home soon encourages them to believe that this evil is real and dollar signs practically ‘kerching!’ in their eyes.
What we get after this is in part an absurd comedy played completely straight. Early scenes with the Killers in are presented as you would expect in a horror, but the content is almost slapstick. At the same time, a tandem narrative follows Sam and Courtney that is straight out of modern horror’s sombre playbook. It’s two separate films hanging together in a way that just shouldn’t work. And arguably it doesn't, sometimes just coming across as awkward. Saying that there’s still a fair amount to commend. The acting is actually pretty decent which helps when we’re meant to care about Sam and Courtney. Some of the reality show jokes (which could come from a Zucker-esque parody) raise a chuckle. When the film has its serious face on it has moments that, whilst not competing with the films that inspired them, are pretty decent.
It’s an odd dance of tones Moran is trying to work together here and he’s to be admired for it, even if only for the bonkers nature of the concept. Mixing in demon haunting, silly comedy and less overt 1980s references than some recent other low budget horrors, it’s neither one thing nor the other and will probably perplex and annoy as often as it entertains. It may well be random with a supremely silly ending but we kinda liked it and as a little bit of an offbeat calling card for Moran it shows promise.
THE DEMON INSIDE / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: JOEY MORAN / STARRING: CRYSTAL COOK, LANCE EAKRIGHT, JAKE RYAN HULL / RELEASE DATE: UK RELEASE TBA