Carly (Carly Pope) is a woman haunted. In her nightmares her absent mother visits her as a terrifying prospect. And this is because, decades earlier, her matriarch was responsible for a terrible act of violence. But what if she could enter her mother’s subconscious? And what if this uncovers something supernatural in what took place in the past?
The story behind Demonic is perhaps more interesting than the film itself. Blomkamp has been absent from cinema for six years, and in that time has been steadily releasing fascinating short films. With the arrival of the pandemic, it suddenly became easier for the director to make a smaller, contained feature length. And thus Demonic was born.
And for much of the first half this seems to be capturing some creative magic. The narrative is initially genuinely fascinating, Pope is an interesting lead and the world being built feels complete and one we want to spend time. And yet things begin to fall apart as true motives are revealed. A compelling first half gives way to an increasingly ridiculous set of events that builds to a climax that would be lot more fun if it weren’t all taken so seriously. It all becomes a bit Da Vinci Code left and feels as wooden and ludicrous as befell that book and film.
I do believe there is another great film in Blomkamp but Demonic is not it. This exasperating horror joins the likes of Elysium and Chappie as some good ideas undone by narrative weaknesses and pronounced flaws in its final act. The sci-fi here isn’t as engaging as you’d like it to be and the horror is often poorly shot, eking out very few frights. You just want Demonic to be better.
I think for many this is a work that will frustrate and disappoint and I implore viewers to seek out other recent tech horrors like Possessor and Come True instead.