Demonic didn’t wow critics as Neill Blomkamp’s sci-fi horror teased armed exorcists and nightmarish worlds, for breaking any promises.
by Neill Blomkamp Demonic wasted not one, but two of the most promising vanities teased by the film’s promotional material, turning a potentially compelling premise into a disappointing and all-too-familiar finished film. Blomkamp’s first feature film District 9 was a breath of fresh air in 2009, and sci-fi satire immediately made the director a name to watch. Unfortunately, a mix of follow-up movies tarnished Blomkamp’s reputation, and this was only made worse by the failure of his recent sci-fi horror mashup. Demonic.
Filmed in secret during COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020, DemonicThe story follows a young woman, Carly, whose troubled mother is institutionalized after a massacre. When a shady company offers Carly the chance to talk to her mother through technology that invades dreams, the scene is seemingly set for a deadly combination of horror and sci-fi. Unfortunately, Demonic disappointed critics with his rote plot and tired fears, a disappointment compounded by his intriguing ideas.
In his first trailers, Demonic promised both a visually stunning realization of the disturbed dream world conjured up in the mind of Carly’s off-balance mother and the surreal sight of heavily armed SWAT-style exorcists. Demonic revealed that the company behind their mind-entry tech was a secret Catholic sect of priests hunting down demonic possessions, but barely was it revealed that the entire Black Ops team of exorcists was was found dead before being seen in action. Blomkamp’s Demonic wasted this intriguing concept; Promising the sight of armed exorcists to kill them almost immediately offscreen was a misstep, with the film’s most interesting characters unceremoniously offended before uttering a word. Not only that, but Demonic nor did he realize the potential of his dream exploration plot.
From David Lynch to Wes Craven, the dream world has always been a breeding ground for horror filmmakers. One of the big hooks that Demonic sold out, and the element that set the film apart from so many other lockdown productions was that the film used CGI backgrounds to hide social distancing and make the world trippy with nightmares at the same time. It is ingenious vanity and is never properly fleshed out or made exciting in Demonic, which barely distinguishes its waking world settings from the murky dream world. For the majority, DemonicThe ending plays out like a standard demonic possession story, avoiding Nightmare on Elm Street– fantastic styling visuals in favor of a base villain.
Neither an armed man of god nor the literalization of mental spaces is a new concept in the world of cinematic horror. 2000s psychological horror / police procedure The cell, for example, got creative with his dream concept, with Tarsem Singh’s unforgettable effort featuring truly inventive and breathtaking grotesque achievements of the troubled antagonist’s internal world. Dolph Lundgren’s underrated effort The Minion, meanwhile, saw the actor play a tough exorcist ready to face all demons with strength and fiery power. However, Demonic failed to breathe new life into either of these compelling premises, while ensuring that there will not be Demonic 2 to remedy this thanks to the film’s poor critical reception.
Following; Every Neill Blomkamp movie, ranked from worst to best (including demonic)
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