Surely with a name like “Demon,” this movie is a prequel to Demons, right? RIGHT? Okay, well, if it’s not a prequel to Demons, it’s gotta be a romantic comedy about a woman who’s really hard to deal with, right? WRONG AGAIN, DUMMIES. Having read the film’s synopsis and learning about a “wedding” and how that can “change a person,” I guess my mind just jumped to how terribly all of my weddings have gone. Luckily, the wedding featured in Demon went much better than my weddings, and that includes the possible demonic possession! This Polish/Israeli production puts love to the test and makes you question how well you really know your better half, and how much you might have to sacrifice for love.
Hey buddy, your wife? SHE STINKS.
Piotr (Itay Tiran) heads to his bride-to-be’s home in preparation for a long night of celebrating their marriage. Despite not knowing his future son-in-law too well, the bride’s father gives Piotr a plot of land to celebrate the union. While preparing the house for the upcoming festivities, Piotr uncovers what he believes to be human remains. OH NO, THOSE SHOULDN’T BE THERE. On the night of the wedding, things start getting a littttttttttle out of control. Piotr’s behavior becomes erratic, he starts interrogating relatives about what he believes he uncovered, and begins having physical fits and tantrums. Is it the stress of a long, emotional evening that’s getting to Piotr or are there more supernatural forces at work, like a Dybbuk, as one of the wedding guests claims? Well how about you watch the damned movie and figure it out for yourself, BECAUSE I’M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU.
I promise that your nose won’t bleed as much if you can keep your finger out of there.
I tend to stray away from anything categorized as a “psychological thriller,” because it feels like a generic marketing term, but in the case of Demon, the events of the film really get into your head. Writers Pawel Maslona and Marcin Wrona (who also directed) crafted a story that just often enough hints at otherwordly forces at play while also keeping the story grounded. There exists a unique, specific tension at weddings that facilitates the erratic, exhausted behavior of attendants, making the perfect backdrop for the events of the film. Some people become lucid, some become depressed, some become empowered (thanks to the free-flowing booze), and some people become all three. Add the air of judgement of a father handing his daughter over to a relative stranger to the mix, and Demon captures a powerful cocktail that allows the viewer to think anything is possible. A demonic possession? A medical condition that has gone untreated? ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE AND THAT IS SCARY.
Yes, we get it, you win the King Dancing Man award!
Tiran’s performance really helps sell the conflicting interpretation of event. When you think of traditional “possessions” in films, a person gains super-strength or can do things a regular human couldn’t do. Tiran’s possession is much more subtle and much more fragile. When the film starts, he’s a confident, sometimes brash husband-to-be, but his discovery of human remains begins his descent into confusion, vulnerability, and ultimately fragility. The biggest strength of the film is its ability to walk the line between reality and supernatural. Rarely do films, especially in recent years, show such blatant disregard for an audience’s expectations for definitive answers. For as much as I enjoyed films like Citadel or The Canal, the filmmakers eventually sway you into having a much better grasp on the reality of the story. Instead, Demon leads you down two different paths, and each time you think you see the end in sight, you’re pulled in the other direction, reminding me much more of the quintessential psychological thriller Jacob’s Ladder. Demon will sweep you up in its fervor, question your devotions, exhaust you, and leave you wanting more. Hey, almost like a relationship!
Wolfman Moon Scale