Studio: Uncork’d Entertainment
Director: Miles Doleac
Writer: Miles Doleac
Producer: Miles Doleac, Lindsay Anne Williams, Ryan H. Jackson, Kevin McGrail
Stars: Miles Doleac, Lindsay Anne Williams, Steven Brand, Kristina Emerson, Gary Grubbs, Jessica Harthcock, Yohance Myles, Caroline Baggerly, Megan Few, Andrew Divoff, John Schneider
Ten years after a young woman’s death, new hauntings compel her sister and a former priest to confront what happened during a failed exorcism.
A tip for indie filmmakers and distributors: If you want your movie to be easily accessible for viewers, and presumably you do, consider a title that isn’t a single, common word like “Demons.” This holds doubly true when you are competing in a genre where multiple movies already go by the same name, which in this case includes the overshadowing 1985 Italian classic “Demons” from Lamberto Bava and Dario Argento.
Bigger than being confused for something else, finding films with simple, repeatedly used titles can be like searching for a particular grain of sand on a beach. Currently, IMDb has 63 exact title matches for “Demons,” with that number actually jumping to 169 by futilely trying to specify “Demons 2017.”
It’s a minor inconvenience when you can’t locate what you’re looking for on IMDb. It’s a greater problem when such a search yields similarly vague results while looking to purchase a physical or VOD movie.
As of this writing, “Demons” 2017 is newly available on Amazon streaming for a $3.99 HD rental. Good luck finding it though.
Searching for “Demons” under “Amazon Video” returns a whopping 493 results. I have no idea where “Demons” 2017 ranks in that list because I gave up after manually thumbing through the first 60 results. Suspicions suggest others will surrender as well when presented with this burdensome hurdle. It’s less frustrating to settle for anything else than to fight a browsing battle that shouldn’t be so challenging in the first place.
For the film’s sake, I hope the algorithms used by these sites catch up while it still has “new release” status. Otherwise, this is a terrific way to condemn your movie to a corner of the cloud where no one ever notices it.
And “Demons” 2017 needs any available help to get noticed. Already niche in appeal due to its microbudget makeup and patient psychodrama tone, “Demons” doesn’t have the DNA to reach or retain a broad audience. “Demons” may not be a feeble film overall. But a heavy emphasis on contemplative conversations keeps it calm, which isn’t an exciting way for a supposed supernatural thriller to win over a crowd.
Almost a decade ago, an exorcism gone awry ended in a young woman’s death. Colin, the priest who performed the ill-fated rite, turned tragedy to his favor when he traded his collar for a keyboard, finding a new career as a suspense novelist.
Colin also traded celibacy for a family. An unlikely romance developed between Colin and Kayleigh, the victim’s older sister, and their marriage has remained strong since.
Now however, recurring visions of Kayleigh’s tortured sister threaten to torment them both. While hosting a dinner party for four close friends, the haunting inexplicably intensifies. Kayleigh’s sister seemingly has something to say about what really happened to her. Her resulting revelations then take Colin and Kayleigh down a dark path of memories altering how they relate to their shared past.
Miles Doleac, who wrote and directed “Demons,” has dozens of acting credits to his name. Doleac’s penchant for performance has him clearly considering characters first, as “Demons” mines most of its motivation from insular interactions among a small handful of people.
Yet Doleac’s cast isn’t asked to act so much as they are tasked to talk. Overwritten dialogue has everyone gorging on extraneous, often overly intellectualized exposition. One character offers lengthy insight into the deeper meaning behind her urge to swim nude. Another has an in-depth explanation for the symbolism of her tattoos.
It isn’t quite accurate to say that “Demons” has a slow speed. Movement is always occurring, albeit in predominantly verbal fashion. But factor in a noticeable dearth of music and one can identify a highly casual pace in anxious need of more audio/visual energy.
One hour and 45 minutes is entirely too long for an introspective psychological study to remain at a leisurely tempo. Even after a third act twist finally fills in remaining blanks regarding Kayleigh’s sister’s exorcism, “Demons” still spends another quarter-hour wrapping up threads the story doesn’t truly have. Doleac puts many monologues and plot points into his movie, yet no one stops him from cutting the cord on all of the scenes “Demons” could do without.
In a last ditch move to cut to end credits on a stinger, the film manufactures one more revelation, never mind that the vengeful ghost arc already met an agreeable resolution. “Demons” wants to bite from a supernatural thriller cake when its heart isn’t all the way in that category, and that undercuts its core. The movie thus goes to black on a confirmation that its fiction doesn’t add up, what with a pacified spirit now having one more loose end to tie, not to mention a hindsight issue with a haunting (when Colin was alone in the rectory) before a ghost even existed in the timeline.
By virtue of its broad stroke story summary, “Demons” has a classification of “horror.” Expect devilish chills on par with “The Exorcist” or some similar haunter however, and a preparation for disappointment is in order. Miles Doleac competently constructs a quiet reflection on redemption and coming to terms with trauma using a fright film frame. But indulgent tangents confused about their relevance mean that the movie doesn’t possess the entertainment value it presumes.
Review Score: 50