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STUDIO: Phase 4 Films
RUNNING TIME: 84 minutes
A B-movie killer comes to life to kill theatergoers.
Stan Ellsworth, Daniel Bonjour, Rebekah Brandes, Greg Cirulnick and Mandell Maughan
A small-time American indie outfit has found a way to dumb down Bava’s Demons. While Demons fully embraced the supernatural, I can’t quite put my finger on where this film is happening. The case could be made for actual murder in the cinema venue, but there are too many stylistic changes. Are we slipping into the movie Purple Rose of Cairo style? Probably not.
The film focuses on the upcoming showing of a long forgotten horror film. It turns out that the film’s director was a nutjob that killed the cast. They locked him up, but he escaped five years prior to the main story. A couple of kids are running a local Midnight Movie showcase at a small-time cinema. When they play the killer director’s film, the director shows up to kill the audience.
Director Jack Messitt is very impressive in his directorial debut. But, it’s only from a technical standpoint. Messitt produces amazing visuals and set-ups without relying on CG or forced scares. Using a few found locations and enclosed sets, he opens up a world that feels real. It’s just that nothing is really going in that world other than a standard hack and slash. Still, I’ve got to give some credit to Messitt for at least making the film look interesting.
The insane Radford isn’t that effective of a horror movie slasher. He’s the guy on the cover wearing that bizarre skull cowl thingie. You’re never given that strong of a reason for his murder of the film crew. Plus, his time in the nuthouse is explained away in the course of three minutes. He’s nuts and he got locked up. There’s no Michael Myers backstory about what he drove him nuts. His film just inspires the worst in him and now we get to watch some kids gets hacked up.
By the time the film ended, I didn’t feel any hatred towards what I had seen. I spent most of my formative years grabbing clamshell VHS tapes and pouring through the usual trappings of celluloid schlock. The only time that this film tries to rise above is when you get to the last act. The poorly defined shift from the theater to the mystery location leaves one with a lot of questions. It was an almost Waxworks style with very little definition of change.
Maybe, I’m getting too old for horror cinema. Can one really progress out of a certain genre? I don’t want this to become the subject for one of those Andy Rooney style Devin editorials. The short answer is that you get to a point in your life where you’re automatically harder on the films of your youth. They don’t have to necessarily be films from that era, but their ilk. You see plot holes, you see the thin special effects and you see actors barely performing above porn levels. What matters is how you respond to them. When you’re young, you’re more forgiving. Now, I’m left looking at the timer and waiting for a better film. I wish I wasn’t so downtrodden about time spent with modern horror. I just want more.
Blu-Ray sports a ton of featurettes for such a low-budget film. The director’s commentary is rather informative and shows that the director really wanted to turn this into a thrilling experience. There’s a storyboard run-through that shows where the VFX got applied and how must of it was rather practical. The usual cast bios and deleted scenes are shoehorned into the mix. The outtakes and trailers are also included in standard definition. It’s a little robust for a smaller horror flick, but I’m glad to see the effort given to the supplemental materials.