When cinema fans in general see the words “inspired by real events” a sense of shrugged shoulders and a rolling of the eyes, for the catch phrases overused and a rouse to get the audience’s attention, however, delving in deeper one learns about Family Demons and director Ursula Dabrowrsky intentions. First, note this Dabrowsky is not the same one as the Australian author of books intended for children and young adults rather this is the debut of a new filmmaker, who presents a collection of horrors all folded into one story. The director explores the dark side of society, namely the inflicting damage unto their children, and the retaliation to parents with the same extremism and rage package more into a psychological thriller than a direct horror film. Even though the film, released in 2009, the stories and real crimes of then, seem almost pale in comparison to the sickening destruction to the youth that parents now commit. The film oozes pain and depression, along bouts of madness and hatred all inflicted upon innocent and helpless children, who sometimes repeat the lessons of violence, with distribution through MTI Video the exorcism never ends.
As the movie starts a slow scroll climbs the screen (a tad too small and requires the viewer to leave their seat to read it) but essence states of sinister and bizarre situation occurring in Adelaide, Australia. The story revolves around Billie (Cassandra Kane, who incidentally not only stars in her first feature film but the weight of the production, as her screen time accounts from over 90%), as a teenage girl, tormented and tortured by her wretched mother (Kerry Reid). Her mother, exists in drunken state of misery and hatred to herself, her daughter and life in general, as she punishes Billie everyday with physically and emotionally abuse, cursing her for both her rape and birth. The life of Billie could only improve if in prison, as she never attend school, no job; no friends and no one for the most part, a trap rodent in her house, and sometimes chained to the structure, with little or no food. During a drinking binge Billie escapes with a few dollars and buys some food, but is almost caught by group of men seeking to introduce her to gang rape, yet rescued by Sean (Alex Rafalowciz) who becomes her friend and aids her more than once. Soon enough the story develops a twist, involving the mother, who’s character reminds this viewer of the 2010 horror film The Afflicted’s lead actress Leslie Easterbrook, needless Reid does a solid performance of a cruel and uncaring mother, and gives some very disassociative looks that convey a creepiness. The last 20 minutes the story really works very well for the entire movie, and some wonderful moments, which the audience will thoroughly enjoy, as the ghosts of violence never end and return to haunt.
There are some hindrances from the movie, resulting in a weakening tale, such as with Billie’s character, knowing how to get a market (though never let out of the house) and how to function in society (with no education) the character should have acted more naive. In The point conveyed as a mindless vessel, no education and mother resenting her, never takes the horror to new degrading levels, yet still adds to bleakness and limits of the production found in a $6500 film self-financed. Some criticize the fact that the film centers within on location for the overwhelmingly large portion of the movie, however one famous director did it twice, Alfred Hitchcock and the films, Lifeboat (1944) and Rope (1948). Even with a minuscule crew and two weeks of filming schedule, the movie earned three wins and used a cast filled with local theater performers.
Ursula’s movie reeks of Ozploitation, though the conveyance of story sets itself apart with a powerful psychological impact movie, and the drives the audience into thought provoking reflection of the their own communities and society which abuses those alone and afraid to personal demons demoralizing their lives. Although no abundance of gore existences in the movie, a bloodbath does occur be forewarned, and enjoy this overlooked diamond of quality horror, and seek out Inner Demon (2014) which expounds on the film.