The horror remake is the bane of the horror fan; every year sees the desecration of another classic, and maybe once every few years do we get something which equals or exceeds the original. Demoni is a film which should be remade – it has a wonderful central premise, and a wealth of nice ideas, but it also has terrible acting, a low budget, now dated effects, and plenty of other failures. That doesn’t stop it from being a highly entertaining film, but I’ve always thought that there could be so much more done with this story, if handed to a good director and crew, and if given a decent budget.
This is the first in a long series of films featuring the Demoni name, but most of the films do not relate to the original or one another. Now that I’ve typed that I think that a decent mini series could be made for TV featuring the central premise: In a European city a young woman is followed by a mysterious figure. Rather than anything overtly sinister, the man offers her a free movie ticket – a premiere of sorts for a newly refurbished Cinema. The girl, Cheryl asks a friend to go to see the movie too, and they head off to be greeted by a bunch of other people who have received tickets – college kids, elderly partners, a pimp and his prostitutes, a blind man and his daughter, and a mysterious woman who appears to know more than she will say. As everyone snuggles down to watch the movie it appears that the film they are watching is an experimental horror film which somehow mirrors events happening, or about to happen to the viewers. Before long, all hell breaks loose in the cinema as an outbreak of some sort of demon/zombie transformation disease occurs. The audience finds themselves trapped inside the Cinema, having to work together to fight off the demons and avoid being turned.
There are a hell of a lot of ideas in this film and the scope for a massive apocalyptic tale is there. Not everything works though – the acting is mostly poor and the short running time means that the tension versus shocks and violence, versus the number of ideas and potential subplots and reasons don’t all get equal time. There is simply too much going on and not enough time to let each component breathe. That does work in the film’s favour as once the action starts everything moves at a frantic and exciting pace and we have fun questioning how the group will escape and who will be next to be picked off. With the pedigree of Lamberto Bava and Dario Argento at the helm, you know there will be gore and visual flair. The soundtrack is a mixture of 80s rock and metal, yet the overall tone of the movie is mysterious and evocative of an end of the world scenario.
This is a very enjoyable movie for horror fans, but I expect modern audiences won’t get much out of it – just one of the many reasons while I feel a remake or mini series would work well. Imagine a better group of actors, each given adequate screen time and back story, placed in the same situation, in a modern environment. Let the paranoia play out, let the cultural differences in the audience cause friction rather like The Mist (which incidentally is getting the TV treatment and may be exactly the sort of thing I’m talking about here), and once the shit hits the fan there will be a siege which we care about. Throw in various external elements trying to get in to the cinema too. And of course, once the survivors get out and see what has happened to the world, you have a new story to tell. Recommended viewing, but it could have/could yet be so much better.
Have you seen Demons? Do you think the movie deserves a remake or should it remain untarnished by such things? Let us know in the comments!