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A DEMON WITHIN (2017)
Directed by Ayush Banker, Justin LaReau
Written by Ayush Banker, Michelle Beyda-Scott, Helene Gonze, Justin LaReau
Starring Charlene Amoia, Clint Hummel, Patricia Ashley, Michael Ehlers, Cole Crawford, Veronika Bonell, David Sweetman, Laura Ann Parry
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Exorcist films are a dime a dozen and only a handful of them stand out as good. The main reason for this is that the subgenre of horror relies on the standards set by one movie, THE EXORCIST. While it wasn’t the first film to strap a gal to a bed and toss Christ compellations and holy water at her, it was the most iconic and because of that, every exorcism film since has had one variation or another of the same template hoping the viewer hasn’t seen THE EXORCIST and might actually get scared by some of the stuff going on. A DEMON WITHIN follows most of the same beats as THE EXORCIST, but acknowledging that, it does a few things that actually felt new and interesting to counter the familiar.
Teenager Charlotte (Patricia Ashley) and her horny mom Julia (Charlene Amoia) are new to town. They know no one in the town and nothing about the fact that the house they just bought is haunted by a demon. While Julia is busy flirting with the town doctor (Clint Hummel), who used to own the home Julia just bought and lost his own family to the demon, Charlotte is busy getting possessed. It’s going to take the power of love and overacting to beat this demon out of the young girl.
I must admit, I admired the bite this film had in terms of putting Charlotte in peril, a game of hide and seek that turns deadly, and an ending that is pretty sinister. There’s a sense of danger this film has that feels surprisingly gutsy and sophisticated. Unfortunately, the film follows the aforementioned blueprint of possession films from beginning to end, which of course involves a priest and a non-believer exorcizing Charlotte on a vibrating bed. Sure there are a few different details as it appears the demon can switch bodies with ease, but it all feels way too familiar.
Amoia and Ashley are actually pretty good in the acting department which makes up for a pretty stiff performance by the lead male Hummel, who just doesn’t have what it takes to emote enough that the script commands. I didn’t hate this film, but then again, I didn’t love it. There are a few moments of simple fun scares and I like the even simpler effects which basically consist of Charlotte wearing soot on her face to show how possessed she is. A DEMON WITHIN will be scary to anyone who hasn’t seen THE EXORCIST, but everyone else will notice a lot of familiar ground covered.
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