Demonic is an interesting attempt to rework the overused and tired found footage genre. Rather than show the whole film via recovered footage it follows a police investigation into the deaths of a group of ghost hunters and works the footage the police recover into the story at appropriate points. It also tries to rework the equally tired ghost hunters find more than they bargained for plot. And it’s fairly successful at it.
A group of investigators go to a house that was the scene of a massacre that left only one survivor. There’s intragroup drama from the start involving an ex boyfriend who has to be a part of the group due to his abilities which keeps everyone on edge and adds suspense once things start going wrong. Of course there’s the obligatory séance which kicks things into gear. From there it all goes downhill.
This is another film that starts with the ending, as the police arrive at the scene find bodies, a survivor and learn that two people are missing. They then reconstruct the events via the group’s camera footage, (which they are slowly recovering from a crashed hard drive), and from interrogating the survivor, John. It’s his girlfriend Jules and her ex Bryan that are missing. This isn’t a spoiler since we know this from the start. However since we don’t know their fate until the end or just who/what did the killing there is still a good bit of suspense left. There’s also a couple of good twists brought in along the way such as the identity of the original massacre’s survivor. It’s enough to keep you guessing right up until the end. I had an idea how it would play out and I was close, but the script spun things just enough to make me wrong.
James Wan, who seems to have a hand in everything these days was the producer and his influence is all over the film, just like his name is all over the poster. Although he isn’t credited it certainly feels like he had a hand in the script as well as it has the feel of one of his films. Director Will Canon does a good job of switching between creepy haunted house footage and more realistic police procedural scenes. He even gets to film a straight up action scene. This is his second feature after 2010’s thriller Brotherhood, and he looks like he could have a future in the modern equivalent of the B movie, it will be interesting to see what he does next.
The cast for is what we have come to expect from films like this, talented and familiar in face if not in name. The most familiar would be Frank Grillo who puts in a great performance as the detective investigating the case. Dustin Milligan as John, the sole survivor makes a great foil for him and Maria Bello as they try to get to the truth of what happened. The rest of the cast is solid if unremarkable.
In the end, Demonic is an interesting hybrid of found footage, police procedural and haunted house film. It doesn’t always work and it veers into cliched territory at times, but overall it’s a nice, solid film that delivers the goods.