Combustible Celluloid
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With: Carly Pope, Chris William Martin, Michael J. Rogers, Nathalie Boltt, Terry Chen, Kandyse McClure, Jason Tremblay, Quinton Boisclair, Derek Versteeg, Chris Froese
Written by: Neill Blomkamp
Directed by: Neill Blomkamp
MPAA Rating: R for language, some violence and bloody images
Running Time: 104
Date: 08/20/2021

Demonic (2021)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Pixel Dust

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

All the elements for a fun movie are there in Neill Blomkamp's low-budget pandemic-era horror movie Demonic, but somehow it just never gets moving; there's no emotional connection, no scares, and no suspense.

In it, Carly (Carly Pope) is having nightmares about her mother, who is in prison for multiple murders. An old, estranged friend, Martin (Chris William Martin), visits her and explains that he briefly took part in a medical experiment at a facility called Therapol, and spotted Carly's mother there, in a coma. Further, the doctors in charge want to see Carly.

Carly reluctantly shows up, and chief physician Michael (Michael J. Rogers) and neuroscientist Daniel (Terry Chen) strap her into a machine that will project her into a digital version of her mother's subconscious. Carly uses the opportunity to tell her mother off, but, to her surprise, she receives a warning. It wasn't her mother that summoned her, but something far, far worse...

The selling point of Demonic is its use of volumetric capture technology, which essentially makes things look like a glitchy video game. These sequences could have been interesting, if for no other reason than their novelty, but Blomkamp's unwise use of handheld/shaky camera while in the digital universe calls attention to itself and rather ruins the effect.

Blomkamp, of course, made a splashy debut with the overrated District 9, which combined heavy messages with sci-fi and gory battles. His subsequent movies, Elysium and Chappie, were a little more flatly transparent in their intentions, and now Demonic reveals a filmmaker that is ultimately less interested in stories or humans than he is in sermons and technology.

After watching his main character Carly for 104 minutes, we still have no idea who she really is, other than a woman who hates her mother and abandons her friends (conspiracy theorist Martin) for being a little too kooky. Not even the un-scary monster has a shred of personality in this highly skippable dud.

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