Piotr “Pyton” (Italy Tiran) has arrived in town for his wedding. All seems fine for this groomsman and he is goes to see his pretty bride to be Zaneta (Agnieska Zulewska) and her brother, his friend, Jasny (Tomasz Schurdt). Piotr soon goes to the old house that he staying at. Outside he notices that as they have been digging in the area a human skull has been uncovered. That night it storms and begins to pour rain. He falls into a large hole in the same spot where he saw said skull earlier.
The next day, Jasny and a friend of his, Ronaldo (Tomasz Schurdt) go to look for him and find him asleep and pressed against the inside of the backseat of a car window. He soon awakens and realizes that he is dirty and disheveled. But, nonetheless he gets ready, and they head off to his wedding. It doesn’t take long for things to get weird for him. He is haunted by a Jewish woman that he keeps seeing. Eventually, he has two epileptic seizures, as the dead girl’s spirit begins to possess him. It disrupts the wedding and Zaneta’s dad tries to keep things under control and quiet. Meanwhile, Piotr is chained up and kept away from the wedding.
Pawel Maslona, Marcin Wrona
Italy Tiran, Agnieska Zulewska, Andrzej Graboswki, Tomasz Schurdt, Kataezyna Herman
Demon is a quiet and highly restrained psychological horror movie. This art-house/drama/possession movie comes from a European country not usually known for horror films: Poland. Essentially this movie takes place in the “real” world. So bearing that in mind, you are well advised to know that this movie doesn’t have any vomiting, levitation, and/ or spinning heads.
And, this is both of the movie’s strong point and its weakness. On the positive side, it makes you think and keeps you intrigued. You’ll question things and wonder what is going on. To some this will be a turnoff, undoubtedly. For you’re the type of person that needs everything explained and all your questions answered, this isn’t for you. You will find yourself feeling very frustrated, if that is the case.
Director/cowriter Marcin Wrona keeps the movie deliberately paced. The slow and languid feel of it might possibly bore some audiences. Yet, it is a movie that is infinitely more interesting and worthy of your attention than many a louder and more boisterous possession movies. Take for example The Unborn, a movie that featured a Jewish exorcism. While, it was a lot more FX centered; this quiet tale of a Jewish spirit possessing a young man is infinitely better.
It is easy and fair to argue that Demon might just be too ambiguous. Honestly, nothing is resolved at the end and very little is answered or even explained. In fact, we don’t learn much about anything by the time the film is done. In its reserved take on the genre, you will find very little to no moments of actual horror throughout its duration. It has no FX, no gore, no real moments of traditional horror. A few moments though, are unnerving. But, this is actually a compliment; as much of the horror contained here is atypical. In many ways, it plays like more of a dramatic piece than one of straight up horror. Take out the possession and you will find a drama or, I suppose, a dramedy about a bad wedding night.
One of Demon’s absolutely strongest points is the acting. Agnieska Zulewska is great as the bride. She is sympathetic and we all feel for her. I mean, this would amount to anyone’s nightmare of a wedding night. We could say that that, in of itself, is what puts the horror in this movie. The father played by Andrzej Graboswki is excellent. His character was my favorite, because he acts, talks, and thinks in a very real world manner. He and his wife add humor to the movie which in turn helps to elevate the material.
Of course, the groom Piotr, as played by Italy Tiran, has to be great for this movie to truly work, and he is. The way he contorts his body during his seizures recalls Jennifer Carpenter in of The Exorcism of Emily Rose. While, he’s not quite as wild as she was in her role, he’s still very good. His mannerisms change too, becoming more feminine as the possession takes deeper effect. But, even before the possession really takes hold, he is quite excellent. For example, his reaction to any time he sees the ghost girl is excellent.
Demon looks beautiful with night and day shots, of the surrounding area, that are simply breathtaking. Scenes where the rain is coming down hard are stylish and stunning. A couple of moments, like when the wind crashes through the barn as rain pours down are true visual highlights. Yet, despite its mostly serious tone there are bits of humor; the best of which involve the priest who wants to go home.
Demon is a hard film to recommend. I can’t say I really liked it, but to say I hated it would also be a lie. I was certainly intrigued, but I kept wanting more and never really got that. By the end of the movie I was left a little frustrated. Yet it’s far too well acted, beautifully shot, and bold in its audacity to challenge an audience’s expectation, to condemn. If, you’re willing to go in with an open and clear mind it might well be worth your time. Just be sure to know what you are getting yourself into. To some this movie might come off as pretentious, to others it might be a masterpiece. In short, if you’re into or are looking for an art-house movie with elements of horror, I think this one might be right up your alley. But, if you’re search of a more straight-up possession horror movie, go somewhere else.