Neill Blomkamp is possibly one of the pioneers in modern creative and technological filmmakers and his latest offering Demonic has sought him to look beyond the lockdown restrictions to produce a film that could still test his innovative storytelling techniques through a new medium. His choice of flexing his vision is through volumetric video capture technology.
There are some curious elements that weave together though the narrative which has a mix of grit or raw energy to it and equally the volumetric video capture used is glitchy and unpolished, something that Blomkamp openly admits, but this for me is part of its appeal and gives substance to the film.
Carly’s (Carly Pope) past has been dormant since the events that happened to her mother Angela (Nathalie Boltt). Events that slowly spill out and reveal themselves in the course of her journey to find the truth, but one that leads her on a path to something sinister lurking in the underworld, waiting to be unleashed.
Sometimes we’re only willing to see things from our own perspectives and not go beyond them to understand the views of others. What becomes apparent to Carly is that her mother didn’t simply lose her way and go mad overnight but something else lured her into its domain and controlled her actions.
The opportunity to confront her past and her mother comes to Carly in an unusual fashion when she is approached by a physician and his team to visit her mother, (who is now in a coma,) she can enter through a mindscape using new technology. In her mother’s mindscape, Carly tries to find the answers to what tormented her but in doing so, a portal is opened and a bridge formed that allows a demonic force to find a way back into the real world. Carly must team up with her childhood friend Martin (Chris William Martin) to see if they can prevent the demon from inflicting its wrath on all those that stand in its way.
There is a great element that is slightly lacking here though and felt ripe for further opportunity to explore further in a team of religious SWAT members, charged with exorcising demons in a kick-ass military way, but we’re only treated to the aftermath.
Carly’s descent into her past and the investigative way that she goes about finding the reasons for who she is is what holds you to the story and draws you in.
This along with the uncanny valley feel that the volumetric video capturing does to put you off ease, providing that sense of ill-feeling when Carly enters an alternate domain.
The downfall however is that there are moments in the movie that prove a struggle to connect with and feels too disjointed. It’s a catch-22 situation because part of Demonic’s raw appeal is also what makes the film feel incomplete.
I still applaud Blomkamp’s direction and experimental approach but this one didn’t manage to tick all the boxes.
- Saul Muerte
Demonic will be available to stream across all key digital channels from September 15 and on DVD/Blu-ray from 22 September.