Fury of the Demon Movie Review
Written by Karin Crighton
Released by Hippocampe Productions
Written and directed by Fabien Delage
2016, 60 Minutes, Not Rated
Screened at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival on October 15th, 2016
Christophe Gans as Himself
Alexandre Aja as Himself
Philippe Rouyer as Himself
Jean-Jacques Bernard as Himself
Christophe Lemaire as Himself
Touted as a “documentary”, Fury of the Demon interviews film historians, restoration artists, and the arthouse employees who witnessed a mysterious 19th century movie drive a theatre full of respectable French citizens insane in a matter of minutes in 2012. After the dust settles and the injured are taken to the hospital, the wealthy film fanatic who hosted the screening is arrested – but the reel has already vanished. The experts postulate what it could have been: the long lost film La Rage du Demon, made by a troubled disciple of George Melies named Victor Sicarius.
The name George Méliès might not be as famous a Stephen Speilberg, but it's because of him that filmmaking progressed so explosively. He pioneered special effects; featuring vanishing/appearing spirits and frequently explored themes of devils and demons haunting his characters. That short you've seen of a rocket crashing into the face of the moon? That's Trip to the Moon; his most famous (and copied) work. Thomas Edison stole the film himself, created a duplicate, and distributed his version until he made it impossible for Méliès to make money on his original movie. Méliès gave up filmmaking when he could no longer make a living at it, and subsequently a huge amount of his work went missing or destroyed.
Writer/directed Fabien Delage uses this downfall to invent a second life for Méliès, where he acquires devoted student Victor Sicarius. Fascinated with the occult and Méliès’ use of satanic symbols, Sicarius learns all he can from the brilliant elder. But his work is much, much darker. He disembowels a fox on screen his first major release and for some reason the audience doesn't love it. Méliès cuts Sicarius loose and Victor spirals into a tailspin of demonic adoration. Thus, the historians invited to “testify” for Fury of the Demon decide that Sicarius is the likely auteur of the killer movie.
Augmenting reality is always a clever way to create a new story; Inglorious Basterds did pretty well at the box office after all. But Fury of the Demon spends so much time sleuthing, it gets boring. The menacing score under the interviews promises that at some point we'll get to see a hint of the devastation La Rage du Demon wreaked, but...nope, more talking. This movie is a fantasy, but the filmmaker never takes advantage of that. It instead spins in circles discussing who is responsible, who isn't responsible, without ever showing us what they're responsible for. We need a hint at the macabre film; a shot that isn't just an interviewer in a library; a cutaway that isn't a film we've been seeing on university campuses for a hundred years.
But...nope, more talking.