A prequel set before the haunting of the Lambert family that reveals how gifted psychic Elise Rainier reluctantly agrees to use her ability to contact the dead in order to help a teenage girl who has been targeted by a dangerous supernatural entity.
Returning to her childhood home in Louisiana to recuperate from a horrific car accident, Jessabelle comes face to face with a long-tormented spirit that has been seeking her return -- and has no intention of letting her escape.
In Louisianna,Detective Mark Lewis is summoned to attend a call from the notorious Livingston House and he finds three bodies and one survivor, John, who is in shock. He calls for backup and also the police psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Klein to interrogate John. They learn that the team of ghost-busters Bryan, John's pregnant girlfriend Michelle, Jules, Donnie and Sam decided to perform a séance in the house, where the owner Marta Livingstone had committed a violent slaughter, to summon their spirits. The séance went wrong and released evil spirits that killed Jules, Donnie and Sam; however Michelle and Bryan are missing. While Elizabeth interrogates John, Mark and the technical team tries to retrieve the hard disks with the footages from the house to find where the other two survivors may be, Detective Lewis discloses a dark supernatural secret about John. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When I choose new Horror films to watch, I usually rely on IMDb posters and synopsis, followed by the video trailer (and sometimes based on proximity, in the list of "users also liked" found on pages of films I've enjoyed). So it was a very pleasant surprise for me to see the name James Wan (a.k.a the Wan and only!), master artist of modern Horror-Thriller, in the opening credits. With numerous triumphs to his name (Saw, Insidious, Dead Silence, and The Possession for instance), James Wan is to me no less than a brand name, guaranteeing top quality modern Horror mixed with suspense and just the right amount of drama. However, in this case - I must sadly say that the film didn't remotely resemble the level I've learnt to expect from Wan. Probably because he was a producer here, not in charge of story or direction.
The first obvious characteristic made known is that it's somewhat of a combination between narration and found footage. A detective reaches a murder scene in a house infamous for similar murders 20 years ago, relating heavily to the occult. As the sole suspect is interrogated, he recaps the occurrences of the past few hours, or at least what he remembers. Simultaneously, the police technicians manage to salvage the footage of the cameras placed in the house, and together both testimonies slowly uncover the story. As a Horror fan who really doesn't like found-footage "mockumentaries" - I must say this combination was very well done!
As for the acting, those of us who've seen Eurotrip were in for a nice little Easter egg, with Scott Mechlowicz playing the role of blunt antagonist Brian. After seeing him as the comic romantic, his skills in portraying the condescending patronizing ex-boyfriend were pleasantly surprising, the proof of acting talent! Other than that, I found the entire cast to be very good, with no-one standing out in particular.
Now for the lesser parts... For starters, the story followed the all too familiar pattern of "youngsters performing seance, things go wrong, enter possession?". The exposition bringing said youngsters together and the overall conclusion of events were the only things resembling originality, with the conclusion part even less so as it's been done in other films. The build up lasts most of the film and does a good job in being compelling and creating suspense, but leads to an anticlimactic and somewhat disappointing ending. It feels like preparing the audience for a major twist, which turns out to be all too obvious and predictable (whenever the adjectives "anticlimactic", "obvious" and "predictable" are used to describe the twist and ending - disappointment is eminent).
It's difficult for me to remain objective when the ending is a let down, but all in all I must say Demonic is quite a fun experience. I believe James Wan had no business participating in a mediocre production, but not all things mediocre are necessarily bad. I enjoyed the film pretty much until the ending, and I guess it's worth trying if you're a fan of this particular sub-genre.
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