e-Demon Movie Review
Written by Stuart D. Monroe
Released by Dark Cuts Pictures
Written and directed by Jeremy Wechter
2018, 86 minutes, Not Rated
Released on September 14th, 2018
Julia Kelly as Kendra Deidrick
John Anthony Wylliams as Dwayne Booker
Christopher Daftsios as A.J. Spencer
Ryan Redebaugh as Mar Petruso
Jessica Renee Russell as Susie Petruso
Vincent Cooper as Bastian Petruso
Waltrudis Buck as Gertrude “Gamma” Gushchwald
What’s a subgenre that’s been done to death? You guessed it: possession. What’s another subgenre that’s been done to death? You’re two-for-two: found footage/new-tech found footage. You would think that a combination of the two would be an eye-roller or (at the very least) hard to pull off with any degree of quality. Luckily for you, writer-director Jeremy Wechter’s first feature film, e-Demon, has something fresh to say in terms of logic, writing, and mythology.
Kendra (Julia Kelly; Forever Into Space), Dwayne (John Anthony Williams; Heroes Don’t Come Home), A.J. (Christopher Daftsios), and Mar (Ryan Redebaugh) are old friends from their days at Ohio State University. Now scattered across the country, they get together via video chat to reminisce about the old days. They also used to have a tradition known as “Freak Out”, a practical joke war of ludicrous proportions. At first, their night of hanging out is all fun and games. When Mar (who lives in Salem, Massachusetts) involves his family in a prank that opens their Gamma’s cursed trunk in the attic (a relic from an ancestor who was burned at the stake for witchcraft), all hell breaks loose…literally. Before you can say, “It’s just a joke, right?” an ancient demon is discovering the power of 21st century technology.
New-tech found footage is a sub-sub-genre that you either love or hate. In the wake of success for films like Unfriended, Unfriended: Dark Web, and Searching, N.T.F.F. is becoming a trend in horror/thrillers the last few years. Still, it’s essentially traditional found footage utilizing a variation on the medium. I’m a fan, though it has taken a little getting used to. The format has pros and cons. It’s much less visually stunning in terms of providing breathtaking cinematography or stirring in score, for example, but it does allow for more creative maneuverability and a reality that feels a little more grounded when properly executed. e-Demon is no exception to the rules.
In that context, e-Demon hits most of the right notes. The four main characters have a good chemistry and rapport with each other that’s believable (if not a bit forced at times). The tech format gives pop-up windows of private chats between the friends that are clumsy exposition but nonetheless serve the purpose of drawing your eye and mind where it needs to be. It’s not high art, but it’s effective (i.e. when you need to see a scary detail the window maximizes). You’re really going to have to suspend your disbelief a little more than usual, but if you can do that, you should find a pretty fun ride.
The high-water mark for e-Demon comes from the writing. It’s an intelligent (and undoubtedly convoluted) script that gives a different take on what the demon is, why it’s here, and how it does what it does with such shocking speed. There’s a mythology behind it that gives the last quarter of the film some real resonance and freak out value (see what I did there? FREAK OUT!).
Of course, the thinly-veiled warning about all this technology we have and how it has changed us as a society is about as subtle as a hammer to your thumb, but it works in this scenario because of simple logic. Under these circumstances we’d all be pretty fucked pretty fast. Additional style points are added for the loving homage to Lucio Fulci and the ending of his masterpiece, Zombie, placed at the finale. My black little heart soared at that.
e-Demon is a worthy addition to a sub-genre that’s getting awfully crowded here lately. It’s not perfect, but the artistic vision and the dedication to the creation are evident. Lock that disbelief away and let yourself enjoy this one (if only once).