Sunday, February 11, 2007

Demonsamongus (2006)

Joe has recently moved to Miranda Falls, a small and quiet rural town in Australia, to work on his thesis about the negative effects of advertising and mass consumption. He comes looking for peace and quiet, but soon finds himself witness to a horrific evil. One night, he wakes to find a demon chomping down on his cats. He flees through the forest to the nearest neighbors’ house, but finds them already victims of the demon. Soaked in blood, he becomes the cops’ primary suspect. On the run from both demons and the authorities, he enlists the help of local convenience store clerk Kylie, who has also witnessed the demon’s destruction. Meanwhile, Hollywood advertising executive Ed Winters returns to Miranda Falls to investigate the death of his ex-wife and family. Arriving at the blood-stained farmhouse, Ed encounters the Devil himself, who makes him a deal he can’t refuse…Can Joe stop the evil before it spreads to the rest of the world?

Demonsamongus is a wholly different horror film, directed by Stuart Simpson, which focuses on aesthetics as much as blood ‘n’ guts with great success. The first thing I noticed about the film was that it was beautifully shot. Scenes switch from black and white, to black and white with saturated colors, to full color shots, without ever alienating the audience. Other shots are surreal, giving the film a nightmarish quality. I would compare Simpson’s style to early David Lynch with a dash of Evil Dead-era Sam Raimi thrown in. The film is grainy, giving it that wonderfully gritty ‘70s feel. The composition of each scene is stunning, from showing a decaying town and the desolate countryside to Joe on the run from the demons and Kylie exploring a cave where the demons are hiding. From the stunning direction and cinematography, Simpson hits the right emotional cues and evokes a visceral response from the audience. In other words, Demonsamongus is a downright frightening and creepy film that’ll give you the heebie jeebies and leave you looking over your shoulder!

The acting is solid throughout, even with a few fun scenes evoking Peter Jackson’s film Dead Alive. Nathaniel Kiwi does a great job as Joe, going from strange outsider arriving in a new town to a man slightly off his rocker who listens to a talking ax while killing the demons. Peter Roberts plays both Ed Winters and Sergeant Geoff, two completely different roles that he plays perfectly! He plays them so well, in fact, that I didn’t know the same actor was playing both roles until the credits rolled. The rest of the cast, including Laura Hesse as Kyle, also do a fantastic job in their respective roles.

The demons themselves are very scary. The move around jerkily, but sure give chase to prey quickly! The scene where Kylie investigates a cavern with a video camera reminded me of The Descent and there is also a scene that is very Ringu-like. The makeup and special effects, done by Nick Kocsis, are all spectacularly done. From the demons to the carnage they leave behind, the blood and guts in the film do not disappoint!

The soundtrack and score were also extremely well done that I would be remiss in not mentioning them here. From alt-rock to country and folk tracks, the soundtrack is stellar, really adding to the unsettling atmosphere. The original music, done by Clare Whitcombe, is also a real standout. The music is haunting and lends itself nicely to the ominous atmosphere of the film.

Speaking of sound in the film, the noises in the film even lend to the menacing atmosphere. Creaky floorboards, buzzing lights, rustling brush and even a shower running all manage to sound threatening. Demonsamongus even won for Best Sound at the 7th Melbourne Underground Film Festival in 2006 and it is easy to see why.

The social commentary about the negative effects of advertising and the evils of mass consumption is portrayed quite intelligently here without ever being overbearing. While the commentary is present, it does not weigh down the overall story. I would its presentation to the social commentary contained in Romero’s film Night of the Living Dead. It is subtle, but it still packs a punch upon reflection.

The extras on the disc include deleted scenes, a making of featurette, trailers and a short film entitled Sickie, directed by Stuart Simpson.

Demonsamongus is a brilliant indie film from Australia that contains many artistic and creative touches while never forgetting it is a horror film. Director Stuart Simpson has crafted an unsettling, bloody and frightening film that is not to be missed by horror fans that appreciate trippy, surreal imagery along with their gore!

Troma Films has picked up worldwide distribution rights for this fine film, so look for it coming soon! Check the official Demonsamongus site for more info!

Available from Amazon!

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