Demons: A Review
by Luce Allan
Priest-turned-author Colin Hampstead is haunted by a failed exorcism that resulted in a young woman's violent death, which destroyed her family and created a strong bond between Colin and Kayleigh Grant, the woman's older sister. Eight years later, Colin and Kayleigh are married with a child, and, in addition to Colin's writing career, own a successful bed-and-breakfast. As they are in the midst of hosting a wedding for their close friends, however, Kayleigh's sister emerges from the afterlife as an increasingly-powerful force whose sinister energy bursts into the living world with terrifying intensity. In Demons (2017), the gruesome and shocking secrets surrounding a pious Southern family collide with the otherwordly perils of the supernatural realm.
The primary strengths in Demons revolve around the film's attention to depth. The intermingled flashback and present-time scenes are almost equal in emotional complexity and detail, which strengthens the moments of horror. The portrayal of the fractured relationship dynamics within the Grant family are dark and arresting, with the slowly-unraveling layers of disturbing secrets lending an atmosphere of both visual and psychological horror. Miles Doleac (Colin), also the film's director and writer, delivers a mesmerizing lead performance, as his penetrative gaze and gravelly voice allow his characterization of a troubled and disillusioned former priest to ring true. Andrew Divoff (Jasper Grant) commands his scenes as the callous patriarch of the Grant family, and his interactions with Doleac's character are tense and compelling. Kristina Emerson (Lara) and Steven Brand (Eddie) also impress with their sincere portrayals of their characters, who are refreshingly interesting in their secondary roles and avoid the pitfalls of one-dimensional horror tropes.
The film is, however, weakened by a few inconsistencies. The momentum of the plot is hindered by slow scenes that dilute the excitement of the more active scenes, and a few elements in the storyline lack coherence between the natural and the supernatural, which (without revealing spoilers) deprive the twists in the film of their full potency. A few reactions by various characters to emotional revelations in the film occasionally lack authenticity, which also takes away from the ultimate potential of the scenes.
Overall, Demons goes beyond the general possession/exorcism film in terms of depth and characterization, but never quite reaches the potential of its gripping plot.