Who said all remakes have to suck? I’ll give you most Hollywood remakes highlight the fact that we’re all running out of new ideas, but every once in a while you find a diamond in the rough. In terms of horror flicks, sure, most are pretty terrible, grabbing at any money hardcore fans can stand to shell out. Fortunately for me, and anyone else who has had the pleasure of picking up the 2009 remake “Night of the Demons”, this one hits on all cylinders from the get go, and in some cases outdoes the original. If you’ve got Netflix, you’re in luck, this one is on demand and ready to go. Looked pretty nice on my computer, too, but I feel there are enough effects and visuals to cause a pretty lame experience for anyone trying to watch over a slow modem or on the Wii. Do your gore loving brain a favor and get the HD version.
If you’ve been following these reviews for any stretch of time, you have probably figured out I’m a big fan of simple. This storyline is simple to the max. Party promoter/goth chick Angela is down on her luck and decides to go for broke with a last ditch effort right in her wheelhouse; a Halloween party of epic proportions at an old haunted mansion. All manner of depraved souls come out to drink, smoke, bang, and do “everything that dark part of your soul ever wanted to do.” This turns out, at least from the looks of it, to be the best party ever. As any of us house party frequenters could guess, the cops soon show up and raid the party, kicking everyone out and ruining Angela’s chances of making any money. The few main characters left after the bust end up locked in the house for the night. Eventually, they become possessed by a bunch of demons in an attempt to make their way back onto earth to destroy everything. Gotta dig the Biblical references (seven demons have to take possession of seven different people for the end of the world to come). What follows is a pretty classy mix of violence, gore, sex and dumbass kids having a great time.
I purposely left out how the film gets from “the party gets busted” to “demons start possessing people,” and for good reason. This bit of plot is probably the weakest part of the whole film. It starts with the party getting busted. The three main girls stick around because they are trying to find the super slutty one (different from the slutty one and the normal one). The two guys are with the girls. Colin, the drug dealer, had to ditch his stash down a vent during the raid, so he sticks around to find it. Angela is still there because she rented the house and is helping to find the drugs and sluts and pick up her mess of a life. So we’ve got our seven now, for various reasons, still in the house. Angela and Colin head to the basement to find the drugs, and in the mean time find a bunch of secret rooms, one of them full of dead bodies. Angela tries to investigate, and is bitten by one of the corpses (which are still lying there, dead). This makes her the first one possessed. After that, the others are possessed either by being bitten by someone already possessed or by kissing them (having sex works as well). It’s kinda like herpes, except a little worse. It’s a cool concept and everything, it just doesn’t really mesh with the part of the plot that says seven demons have to possess them. It’s like the people already possessed are transferring possession… I give up.
The characters and acting in this movie are fairly strong, especially for the amount of press this movie got. I mean, come on, Shannon Elizabeth is in it! To be fair, I didn’t even realize it was her until I was looking at IMDB earlier, but hey, that’s still solid mainstream talent in a flick that is anything but. And you can’t count out Edward Furlong either. Unfortunately in the same boat as Elizabeth, he’s definitely made a name for himself and shown he is worthy of a seat on the A list. The other members of the cast are no band of misfits, and most have made appearences in some big budget Hollywood movies (Wedding Crashers, Star Trek, The Devil’s Advocate). The characters they play are interesting as well, and each brings their own bit into it. In any bland horror movie, the character of Jason would just be the goofy stoner. Here, he’s still goofy and he smokes pot, but not in a stereotypical way. He’s a genuinely good guy looking out for his friends but having some fun along the way. Even the super slutty chick discussed earlier has a personality that makes you like her. And yes, I actually said “personality” and not “huge rack”, although I see how you could get confused. What is lacking in most movies like this is a genuine liking of the characters. I definitely got that in Night of the Demons. Well done.
Visually, this thing was slick. The opening silent movie scene is great. The party scenes play out great, with an awesome mix of rockin music and great costumes. Speaking of costumes, the demon make up is great. Nothing CGI on these bad boys, just good, gooey blood and guts. They’re also pretty creepy to look at, especially when they jump out of no where, of which there are plenty of examples. The overall plot isn’t exactly what I would call “scary”, but we get a bunch of good jumpy scenes. One thing I loved about the directing was the choices of when to build tension and when to just let it ride. At the begining when Maddie is looking in the mirror, we know something is going to come out and grab her. Come on, it’s a mirror in a horror movie, I’m pretty sure there’s a law about that. So we get some slow zooms, cool angles, and, of course, a hand jumping out. Conversely, towards the end when the characters have barricaded themselves in the room, we get no fun angles, no creepy build up music, just a video game like scene of “redraw the protection glyphs before the demons get in”. As a last visual note, the house they throw the party in is a nightmare come true. I don’t know if this is a real place or a set, but it just screams “haunted house”.
Gore wise, we are definitely taken care of. Stabs wounds, faces being ripped off, scratches, shotgun blasts… Yea, all bases covered. Most impressive, as already mentioned, are the creature effects. These things look great and very demonic, but not over the top. As for the naughty bits, Night of the Demons delivers, but don’t expect to like it. We’ve got some female nudity, some normal, some… demonic? I’ll just let one of the more classic lines in the movie, given by Jason, explain: “She stuck a lipstick in her boob and it fell out her *****!” S0 if that’s your kinda thing, go at it. The rest of us are probably gonna pass.
Now we come to that fateful time where I have to wrap this party up. It’s last call and I gotta say I had a great time. We met some real fun characters and really had a blast watching them get slaughtered by the demons. While the transitional plot points were a little lacking, you can’t go wrong with the main themes of Halloween party, haunted house, hot chicks and demonic possession. Most of the time this would call for a group of friends and a case of beer, but don’t overindulge. This one’s actually got some substance to it, and while you’ll still enjoy the movie without being in tune to the finer points, I would hold off on the late night tequila til the closing credits roll. It’s worth it.