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DEMIGOD (2021)

Directed by Miles Doleac
Written by Miles Doleac, Michael Donovan Horn.
Starring Rachel Nichols, Yohance Myles, Miles Doleac, Lindsay Anne Williams, Elena Sanchez, Rachel Ryals, Sarah Fisher, Christian Stokes, Chukwuma Onwuchekwa, Manon Pages, Tatiana Piper, Jeremy London, Sherri Eakin

After her grandfather dies, Robin (Rachel Nichols) and her husband Leo (Yohance Myles) move to Germany’s Black Forest to claim her grandfather’s house and possibly flip it for a profit. Upon their arrival, they meet Arthur (director/writer/producer/musician Miles Doleac) and his daughter Amalia (Rachel Ryals), their neighbors who are avid hunters and believers in the legends of horrors lingering in the forest. Though Arthur tries to warn them, Robin and Leo write him off as a loon, but soon they encounter a coven of witches who worship a horned god (Chukwuma Onwuchekwa). This coven has been linked with Robin’s family for ages, as Robin’s grandfather was the person responsible of keeping the tales of the horned god alive and the witches want Robin to take up the role.

There are aspects of DEMIGOD that are very interesting. I like the idea that basically, this coven relies on Robin’s family as their PR firm, keeping the myths in the public consciousness which fuels their power. I also admire the ambitious designs of the horned hunter god and the witches. Doleac and his crew try to make them distinct and separate characters rather than just a bunch of monsters in tattered robes. I think there is an interesting lore to explore here, but Doleac’s story kind of gets lost in it, which deviates from what should have been a compelling story about the lead, Robin.

Unfortunately, Robin’s story isn’t interesting mainly because I feel actress Rachel Nichols either wasn’t really giving her all or simply lacked the rage to go to the crazy places the script required. Having seen Nichols act convincingly in other roles, I think she might have just been collecting a paycheck here, recognizing this low budgeter for what it was. The chemistry between Nichols and he co-star Yohance Myles isn’t convincing and once things get perilous, Nichols doesn’t sell it. So instead of relying on Nichols as the touchstone, the attention is on the inner relations between the coven, which are populated with runway models in hag costumes. I think had some character actors been cast in the roles, these witches would have been much more interesting to get to know. Doleac seems to be going for a witchy Texas Chainsaw family vibe, but it just didn’t work for me, even though I’m a sucker for that sort of thing usually.

The Hunter God himself works at times. Though, since the rest of the family are human with scars and tatters, I wondered if the Hunter was supposed to be an actual supernatural being or just a guy in a weird mask. The reason is that despite the fact that it is heavily shadowed and obviously paying homage to Tim Curry’s Darkness from LEGEND, the face of the Hunter is an ill-fitting appliance. So while I know it is supposed to be actual horns on a humanoid god in the story, it just isn’t convincing as the seams of the make-up appliances are still hard to hide when the skin is shiny, dimly lit, and covered in shadows. It’s an impressive design, but ultimately fails because it doesn’t jive with the lighting and editing well.

Doleac is going for an epic story of good versus evil steeped in ancient lore with DEMIGOD. He’s shooting for the stars, which I applaud. Doleac is an interesting director who seems interested in these types of stories. They’ve been center stage in his previous two films THE DINNER PARTY and HALLOWED GROUND. But Doleac chooses to wear most of the hats in his productions and I feel that it distracts him from making a story that compels investment. It’s almost as if important aspects like likability of character, story cohesion, and pacing are lost as Doleac juggles responsibilities. I think a truly great film is within Doleac’s grasp, but DEMIGOD is another miss, sadly.

Check out the trailer here!!