Fury of the Demon Movie Review
Written by Hamzah Sarwar
Released by Hippocampe Productions
Directed by Fabien Delage
2016, 60 minutes
Frightfest UK premiere on 27th August 2016
Fabien Delage's spine-chilling documentary investigates the mysterious case of a lost short film, La Rage Du Démon (The Fury of the Demon), that has a turbulent history of inciting rage and even death on those who lay their eyes on it. Dubbed the 'most dangerous movie of all time', the mythical silent film from the 1800s miraculously resurfaced in 2012 for a screening organised by notable film collector Edgar Aaron Wallace. The 'secret' invitation-only event took place at Paris’ Grévin wax museum on July 9th, 2012 with a good turnout from the likes of Alexandre Aja (Horns, Mirrors) and Christophe Gans (Silent Hill). The rumbling excitement soon turned into carnage as the seemingly cursed reels of celluloid wreaked havoc and mass hysteria among its entrapped audience. A bizarre occurrence but not an event unto its own. In 1939, the film was found and screened in the lead up to Tod Browning’s final film Miracles for Sale evoking a similar response. And a third incident is traced as far back as 1897 when the film was created and released to analogue audiences resulting in mass fatality.
The pandemonium sparked by the 2012 projection is described in great detail by the psychologists, directors, film historians and cinephiles who attended. There’s vivid recollection of the uncontrollable rage, eye-gouging, brawling and general descent into anarchy. Can all this be really brought on by a ‘cursed’ film? There’s a pantomime feel to Delage’s work. Are we to believe all that we see? The legend attributes the work to illusionist and innovative special effects director George Méliès (creator of the iconic Trip to the Moon back in 1902). There’s no doubting that the Fury of the Demon could easily be his greatest hoax.
Except Delage doesn’t make it that simple, there is a strong case presented that the Frenchman’s little known, ultra-violent protégé Sicarious may have been responsible for concocting the film. An occult figure, who became obsessed by the macabre, filming foxes being disembowelled and even hanging out in underground chambers where drinks were served on coffins. He’s said to have disappeared after murdering his girlfriend lending to the notion that the deceased haunts the very celluloid of Fury. It’s a smoke and mirrors theory that adds to the aura. As were flung into a rabbit hole of conspiracy theories, there’s a charm and uncertainty to the conundrum that channels a wave of curiosity needing resolution.
The question running through the mind throughout is about the content of the film itself, there isn’t much given away aside from the description of a floating demon on screen. Witnesses talk about a raft of subliminal messaging that crawls under the skin and incites fury. The mystique of cinema and its power to captivate the mind is at the heart of Fury of the Demon. Unmasking the veil draped over the mystery only adds to the drama and allure over what separates fiction from reality. Does the film even exist at all or is it all a grand charade? Either way, it’s a wondrous hyperbole for the intangible magic of the visual medium.