I was able to catch the newest addition to the sci-fi, semi 80s inspired, augmented reality thriller: Demonic. And after revisits and deliberation, I found the film to be…fine. It’s fine. It’s the sort of picture that is pretty neat if you are attracted to its stylistic trappings. But there’s nothing in its plot or characters that are going to wow or captivate you. It is in many ways the perfect Thursday night screening.
That being said, the film does have some highlights that occasionally raise it past middling. Personally, I’m a sucker for any film that does an "entering the cyber space" plot. Whether it’s The Matrix or Code Lyoko, I’ve seen them all, and Demonic does a good job of standing out. The world itself has this early 2000s social MMO vibe to it, which immediately stroked my nostalgia bone. And the filmmaking during said scenes were pretty stellar as well, utilizing a lot of lighting and video game textures to enhance the fear from the scene. Also, the fact that it centers on a mother daughter relationships is definitely new for this sort of film. Women are of course allowed in these films, but never as main characters and never as mothers. So working their drama into the mystery behind the curtain was a nice touch; points for that.
Unfortunately, said plot wasn’t as strong as it could have been. The actions that are revealed and the reactions that occur are entertaining, but their punch is lofty and lacking impact. I think this is because the film has no space for air. Every scene exists to explain who someone is, why they are doing what they’re doing, or why they feel "x" way. And this clinging to exposition propels the plot forward way past the development of the characters. I think the film would be improved immensely by having characters talk to each other removed from a major plot turn. Allowing us to see their connections would have made the later scenes mean more and feel less like bad things happening to random people. Part of this could be that the acting was… well, stiff. Not always, but they were mostly giving tin men, and I was begging the director to find them some oil.
I don’t want you to take away that I wasn’t entertained, because I was. The film kept my attention and I wanted to see the mystery play out. For me, and I think for anyone, it served as the perfect Thursday night screening. The kind of movie that itches your film viewing needs, but isn’t going to shake your world or make you want to share it with everyone and anyone. It’s trippy sci-fi fun, and that’s about it. And that in itself is pretty cool.