Fantasia Film Review: Demon

(Source: The Orchard)

(Source: The Orchard)

Marcin Wrona’s Demon was part of the 2016 Fantasia Film Festival‘s spotlight on Polish Genre Cinema.

The horror story feels like a warning tale, although young successful groom Peter (Itay Tiran) has done nothing wrong. Unless you want to count finding a skeleton in the yard a sin. Rather than rely on scary music or garish effects, the movie tries to slowly impress upon you the idea that Peter (or Piotr as he’s called as well) has been cursed. There doesn’t seem to be a way out, not that anybody is looking for it. The problem in everyone’s minds is getting along with the wedding and pretend everything is fine.

But they’re not. Eventually the bride, Zaneta (Agnieszka Zulewska), is let in on Peter’s predicament. Zaneta clues in a professor from whom we learn that Peter is possessed. But whether he can be saved that’s becoming less and less possible as the night drags on and the liquor flows freely. It soon becomes evident this wedding party is headed for disaster regardless what we do.

I would save this film for someone who wants a different perspective on horror, mixed in with Jewish folklore and Polish flavour. It’s different, but still unsettling and low key enough to bring out some genuinely troubled performances. The ending is a bit of a mix, leaving most of it for the viewer to decide. There’s one shot that seems to borrow from the Shining, which I can’t really discuss here without giving it away.

Highs: Strong performances, low key effects and a slow build. There’s a sense of despair that builds tension to the breaking point without resorting to the usual cliches.

Lows: The slow build gives the movie a bit of a slow pace in some parts more than others. Horror is subtle more than scary. The sense of despair without end can become frustrating, specially at the end.

Recommended for fans of alternate films and willing to see something different. The ending can a bit of a letdown as issues tend to dissipate (or disappear completely in some cases) rather than have a satisfying resolution.

That will do for now.

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