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‘Demonic’ review: Neat tech leads to awful horror

A fine idea in theory.

Demonic sure sounds like a good idea on paper. Directed by Neil Blomkamp of District 9 fame, the film uses volumetric capture technology that turns its actors into geometric shapes. It is the most ever used in a film and should theoretically lead to a more immersive experience for the audience. Sure, the story about a mother, daughter, and unleashed demons is uninspired. Yes, Blomkamp’s biggest hit was over a decade ago. Still, there is no way this film can’t be good. 

Right?

The amount of marketing based around the technology used on the movie should be enough of a clue regarding how much thought went into the actual film. If that is not a big enough red flag, the synopsis is just one sentence. If it were a clever attempt at being vague that would be one thing. In this case, there really is not much more to the entire plot of Demonic.

The shame of it all is that the film would be fine if it was not so confined by its gimmick. While it does not bring anything new to the table, Demonic is the type of standard possession film that has scared audiences since Linda Blair’s head was turning circles in the early 1970s. The reason so many of the movies have been pumped with little change to the general formula is that people like.

Demonic even has a fine premise. Carly (Carly Pope) is estranged from her mother Angela (Nathalie Boltt). When Carly finds out her mother is in a coma, she is also given the opportunity to enter Angela’s mind virtually. It is the perfect chance for closure – and a great excuse to showcase the technology. Not the most novel idea, but a neat one, nonetheless.

At first, things seem like they are going to be okay. Demonic is surprisingly slow and it quickly becomes clear the technology is supposed to make up for a lack of interesting plot; but there is always the chance the film will pick up. Unfortunately, it never does. As a horror film, it is unoriginal and overly long, but it meets audience expectations enough to be entertaining. Regrettably, Demonic aims to be a horror experiment. And while that may work in the labs of a mad scientist, it does not pay off here.

Demonic comes to theaters and Digital and VOD August 20

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