Monday, May 08, 2017

The Demon (1979)








DIRECTOR: Percival Rubens

WRITER: Percival Rubens

CAST:

Jennifers Holmes
Cameron Mitchell
Craig Gardner
Zoli Marki
Peter J. Elliot
Moira Winslow
Mark Tanous
Vera Blacker
Ashleigh Sendin

PLOT:

Set in Johannesburg, South Africa. When a menacing and cold-blooded killer attacks a family at their rural farmhouse, he kidnaps their young daughter and runs off into the wilderness with her body. Her parents are distraught and want their daughter back so they hire a retired US Colonel to help them locate the vicious killer and their young daughter, hopefully alive. The killer who is now on the run begins an obsessive crush on a pre-school teacher and she will need to fight for survival.







The Demon is an odd one. On IMDB, it says the movie is about a malevolent man who brings peoples worst fears to life. The poster also clearly states that 'It is among you possessed. and waiting...'. This would tell you that the movie has a supernatural sort of twist to all of its proceedings. One where our killer is not just a man but something more. This is what I took away from the movie going off of face value. I was ready to meet this apparent demon.

If at any time during the course of this movie's running time that the movie hinted at a possessed killer or something otherworldly or supernatural. I missed it, completely. This is a case of this movie having a great piece of poster art to make up for a pretty average and basic slasher movie. I don't even think that the movie ever actually talks about this killer feeding on people's greatest fears. Every person fears being stalked and attacked in their own homes. That's a normal, everyday fear.

Maybe it was the copy I watched but this movie felt a bit all over the place, plot-wise. The story feels so poorly edited that nothing really ended up making sense. That may also be just what the director had intended the film to be as IMDB and the Wikipedia page state that the killer has no motive. This is very clear while watching the movie as this feels all over the place. We go from one kill to the next with random people coming into the story and being immediately attacked and killed off. It has no real linear story beats.

We have the main family who have their teenage daughter kidnapped in the middle of the night. The colonel who is hired by the family and a pre-school teacher. There is so much going on with even more supporting characters coming in and out of the story that we don't have anyone to really root for or care for in this movie. There feels like there is little to no character development. This movie could be considered one that goes against conventions as the final girl is the pre-school teacher who doesn't really come into the movie as we have several storylines going all at once.

When it comes to the death scenes and violence, it may have been the version I had watched but a lot of the scenes felt terribly edited. We have a decent body count but the way the scenes are shot, they are filmed in almost complete darkness. You can barely see what's happening in a lot of the more violent death scenes. With several 'Black Christmas' inspired plastic bags over the head, this is pretty tame. If it wasn't for several female characters being sexually assaulted and almost raped, this movie would probably secure a PG rating these days. This is almost a bloodless affair.

Now we come to the killer. I am happy not knowing a motive. It sometimes makes things scarier. But why reveal the killer right at the end when we know not a single thing about the character? The movie never once gives us any backstory or even shows us his face until the end. So when it's revealed to be no one we know, the shock and surprise turn to one of disappointment. There is no element of surprise which felt like a real let down. This is just a random guy killing people and not ever being introduced to the character is a real failure on the writer/directors part.

The part of the film that worked for me was the final showdown. Our 'final girl' and I use that term loosely as she doesn't have any of the traits that we've come to know and love about the final girl but here, I enjoyed her resourcefulness. Knowing she is being hunted in her own house, she gets pretty nifty in her bathroom and the final scene between her and the killer is actually quite impressive. Seeing You're Next first, I felt that the character of Mary felt very similar to Erin in that film. I thought it was a nice little touch. She wasn't a victim when it came down to her life or the killers.

Lastly, when it comes to the acting, I don't know anyone in this cast. Jennifer Holmes is slapped all over the posters like she is Meryl Streep. But at the time of the release of this movie, she'd only had a handful of roles and none that would standout to me. However, as an actress, she is decent in her final showdown scene. I actually wanted to see more and wish the writer had given us more character development when it came to Mary as we may have actually cared more about her had the movie turned out differently. The rest of the cast is very hit and miss for me.







DEATH TOLL: 8

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A woman is attacked and has a plastic bag put over her head.
- A young girl is kidnapped and taken into the forest.
- Two men are suffocated with a plastic bag.
- A motorcyclist is knocked off his bike.
- A woman is attacked in a back alley.
- A woman repeatedly stabbed a man in the throat with scissors.
- A woman is punched in the face (her body found dead).
- The killer throws a man over a railing and he lands on his back.
- A skeleton is found by children in the woods.
- A man is slashed across the face.
- The killer breaks a man's neck.
- A man is shot in the head.








The Demon is a mess. There is no other way to put it. With little to no character development, no backstory for our killer and a poorly done reveal that doesn't offer any shocks, this movie just feels messy. The film is also poorly shot, a lot of scenes that are way too dark to see what's happening and when we want violence, we can't see it anyway. The best moment of the film is the final showdown and I also like the killer wearing a clawed glove which he doesn't really use. Other than that, this South African Slasher is just not up to its US counterparts.

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