Horror, Romance, Possession
Director: Lamberto Bava
Writer: Dario Argento, Dardano Sacchetti, Lamberto Bava, and Franco Ferrini
Main Cast: Natasha Hovey as Cheryl, Urbano Barberini as George and Karl Zinny as Ken
Several groups of people attending a horror movie at a high end theatre wind up being possessed one by one by evil demonic spirits.
One thing that I absolutely fawn over when it comes to a horror movie is realism. Nothing can terrify or frighten me more then the sense of what is happening to the people on screen could actually happen in real life. Although what happens in this film is absolutely impossible for a brief second they make it feel all the much more likely by having our characters watching play by play happen to them on the screen. Like, in this moment if I get a cut on my cheek whether it’s from a mask or not I’m probably going to flip out.
I love the fact that we are basically getting two films in one during the first quarter of the film. We get gore and the feeling of perpetuating fear from the characters on screen as well as the people on the screen of the film they are watching. Because of this I feel that it makes what is happening to our “real” characters all that much more terrifying and creepy. In regards to this I need to mention that the amount of people that are talking in the movie theatre while the movie is playing would have pissed me right off. One thing I hate when going to see a horror film in the theatre are people talking during the film. Nothing can pull me out of a film better than people talking or laughing while I’m trying and hoping to feel the fear. Like seriously, if a dude tried to hit on me during a horror movie at the theatre he just earned himself a one way ticket to the friend zone.
Argento has always been amazing with lighting, as we can see from his other works such as Suspiria, but I feel this one is definitely a great example of how using lighting of different colours, especially contrasting colours, can really cause the viewer to be uncomfortable due to how our biology of perceiving certain colours together works. Intelligent horror films, whether they are truly scary or not, always impress me more than ones that don’t pay that much attention to details that may seem minor. Dario has always been one to pay attention to detail. Not only when it comes to writing but when it comes to certain shots of the film looking very artistic and either extremely visually appealing or on the complete opposite of the spectrum where they make you extremely uncomfortable and are down right unnerving. And you can’t have an 80s horror film without the occasional splashes of campiness and although this film has a fair share, which I really enjoy but I can see why others don’t, I don’t find that it takes away from the seriousness of the subject matter.
He also regularly steers away from cliches. At one point when our main characters would usually do something ridiculously unintelligent that you would regularly see on an episode of Scooby Doo and split up they do the complete opposite and shove it right in your face too! One character straight up tells the other characters that splitting up would be the dumbest thing they can do in a situation such as this so instead they stick together and attempt to work together to try and save themselves. Every horror movie sets up its own set of rules that it follows by - or at least it is supposed to follow, often the writers make mistakes - but this film did not. It told the audience the set of rules and stuck to them and left certain aspects over which allowed for the creativity involved in filming to take place. I can’t praise this enough because so often do I find error in the storyline of a movie and that takes away from the realism which inadvertently takes away from the horror that the film is meant to make the viewer feel.
Hah. There’s a point in the film where we see a car full of teenage punks driving around acting badass and the driver of the car looks identical to Rocky Balboa. So much so that I had to look it up to see if it was a strange and random cameo. Spoilers, it’s not. Anyways, I was watching this to discuss with fellow reviewer Bloody Brodie and I jokingly made the comment to him and he responds with “Yeah! It’s an italian version of Rocky Balboa!” and I was so ashamed of him that I deemed it necessary to share with my audience. Besides, what’s a review without me shamelessly calling out Brodie for his occasional brainlessness?
The practical effects in this film were outstanding. I was a bit worried due to how frequently we see those who are possessed and with my approximate knowledge of how many people died that the odd one would be weak but that is not the case. As per usual the score in this film is absolutely fantastic. Typical Dario Argento. Very atmospheric and synthy but at the same time still very 80s (it includes a Motley Crue song as well as White Wedding, how much more 80s can you get?). As for the cover choice of the film (see below/above)? We all know why this cover was changed. It was the most memorable and badass scene in the entire film and is even more epic when you watch it being played out.
There is no doubt that this film will wind up in a lot of people’s top 10 horror movie list and with good reason. Although it is not a perfect 10 for me it is damn close. I rate Demons a 9.5/10. Losing only a .5 due to the occasional being ever so slightly weaker than the build up. The ending is still really enjoyable and I don’t think it could have ended any other way in which would have improved the film but I think it could have gone up a notch. It felt rather incomplete but it’s obvious that they are setting up for a sequel. To the viewers discretion - watch through the credits. Several people I have known who have watched this film missed the very very end of it and the very end is phenomenal.
Also, be sure to check out my review alongside the hosts of the Land Of The Creeps Podcast.