Demonic Is an Intriguing Genre Mashup

I watch a lot of horror movies. I’ve seen films from just about every subgenre you can imagine, and I’ve seen intriguing genre mashups I never thought would work. But one thing I don’t see too often is sci-fi demonic horror. Most movies tend to veer towards either science fiction or the supernatural, but not both. So when I saw the trailer for director Neill Blomkamp’s latest film Demonic, I was instantly intrigued. Sure, this isn’t the first time these two seemingly opposed genres have been combined, but it’s not done nearly as often as some other mashups, so I was interested to see what Blomkamp could do with it.

Starring Nathalie Bollt, Terry Chen, Chris William Martin, Carly Pope, Kandyse McClure, and Michael J Rogers, Demonic tells the story of Carly, a woman who’s been estranged from her mother Angela for many years. One day, she finds out that Angela is in a coma, and she agrees to take part in a cutting-edge treatment that will allow her to enter her mother’s thoughts and communicate with her. Through the technology this treatment uses, Carly unwittingly unleashes a demonic force hell-bent on causing mayhem and destruction, and she has to do everything in her power to stop it.

This movie is a pretty slow burn, but it’s not A24-level slow. It’s more like Mike Flanagan’s 2014 gem Oculus. It takes a while for the horror to really kick in, but once the terror starts, it rarely lets up until the very end. Because of this, the film really needs some strong performances to carry it while you wait for the “good stuff,” and thankfully, these actors were up to the task.

Two woman talking with one upside down

The entire cast of Demonic is really good, but I have to give special mention to Carly Pope. She plays the main character Carly, and since she’s in just about every scene, she really gets a chance to flex her acting chops. This is 100% her movie, and she completely owns it. She nails all the emotions her character goes through, so you’re totally with Carly every step of the way. You’re happy when she’s happy, you’re scared when she’s scared, and you sympathize with her in the movie’s sadder moments. You just can’t help but root for her, so she reels you in and makes you care about the story.

On top of that, Demonic also has some really cool horror. As I said, this is a pretty slow burn, but that doesn’t mean the first half is all smooth sailing. While the horror may not be super explicit in the beginning, you get the feeling that something isn’t right pretty early on. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know there’s something the film isn’t telling you. Neill Blomkamp does a great job of hiding the movie’s secrets while giving you just the tiniest inkling that they’re there, so you’ll want to keep watching to find out what’s really going on.

Then, when the movie finally pulls back the curtain and introduces the supernatural element, you will not be disappointed. For starters, the mythology here is pretty cool. Admittedly, the film doesn’t delve into it quite as much as I would’ve liked, but the little bit we do get is fun. Secondly, the scares are pretty good too. In particular, there’s one scene that sent a chill or two down my spine even though I watched the movie in the middle of the day. I won’t spoil it, but I’ll just say that it starts off subtle and then gets crazy, combining those two styles in the best way possible.

Carly looking scared behind some flames

All that being said, Demonic isn’t a perfect film. While the majority of it is really good, it doesn’t quite stick the landing as well as I thought it would. In the third act, the movie completely ditches one of the most interesting elements of the mythology that the second act sets up, and it’s a huge missed opportunity. I won’t say what it is, but at one point in the movie, you learn something really cool about a few of the characters, and it could’ve made for a badass, bonkers final showdown that would’ve been right in line with the movie’s peculiar blend of sci-fi and the supernatural.

Instead, Demonic completely throws that element away in about two minutes, and it chooses to go the route of just about every other demonic horror movie we’ve ever seen. It employs some really generic tropes that feel out of place in a unique genre mashup like this, so it loses a lot of what made the first two acts so memorable.

But at the end of the day, those problems aren’t nearly enough to sink the entire film. As much as I complained about the finale, it’s decent enough, and when you combine that with the absolutely captivating first two acts, you get a really good horror movie that’s well worth a watch.

So overall, if you’re into demon films, I’d definitely recommend giving Demonic a shot. It’s an intriguing genre mashup that blends the seemingly opposite poles of science and the supernatural in a believable way, and it has some great performances that keep it afloat even when the other elements don’t work quite as well. Sure, it has its highs and lows, but for my money, the good here far outweighs the bad.

Demonic will be released in limited theaters on August 20, and then it will hit VOD a week later on August 27.

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Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong horror fan. From a very early age, he learned to love monsters, ghosts, and all things spooky, and it's still his favorite genre today.

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