Like a lot of armchair film critics out there, I get offered “screener” copy DVDs for various independent, low-budget horror flicks fairly regularly, and while I always appreciate (and accept) the offers, I don’t always review the films. Does that make me a bastard? Well, yes and no — yes because it means I’m being kinda lazy, but no, because if I don’t like a flick that somebody has sent me, I figure it’s a bit of slap in the face to the person who made it — and hooked me up with a free copy — if I then go on to trash the thing. Unlike some of my fellow internet movie scribes, my conscience isn’t for sale for the price of a DVD, so if I don’t like a film I was “comped,” I’m not going to say that I did. I’ll just leave it alone, since I’m thankful for the freebie but not so thankful that I’m gonna lie and say it was good.
Tell ya what, though — if I do like it, the least I can do is try to help out a struggling young independent filmmaker with some free publicity, and I did like the shot-on-HD effort I’m here to talk about today, writer/director William Hopkins’ DEMON RESURRECTION. Hopkins made this thing back in 2008, but his efforts to promote it continue to this day — you can find out more, order a DVD, or download it for $3.99 here — and that sort of persistence is always admirable in my book. It tells me that he really put his all into this project (financially and otherwise) if he’s still beating the drum for it some six years after it was completed, and for those who think that might just be a sign of a guy who doesn’t know when to give up on a lost cause, might I remind you that Tommy Wiseau kept on hyping THE ROOM for a good number of years before anyone else paid any attention.
Not that DEMON RESURRECTION is as overtly “bad” a production as THE ROOM by any stretch, or that it’s been roundly ignored by the horror fan community to this point — all in all, most reviews for it have been fairly positive. I’m just saying, hey, all you indie horror auteurs out there — don’t give up. When a film “wraps” is often when the real work gets started in earnest.
In fairness, there’s not a whole lot that you could call “remarkably original” going on here — the plot, revolving as it does around a young woman named Grace (Alexis Golightly) who is rescued from an obscure devil-cult by her apparent-good-guy new boyfriend, John (Damian Ladd) and finally subjected to an “intervention” by a group of friends who are concerned that her recent sickly appearance might be a sign that she’s (yawn) on drugs or something — borrows pretty heavily from ROSEMARY’S BABY and everything that followed in its footsteps, particularly when we get into “Satan wants her for his bride” territory, but so what? If originality was the barometer we measure “good” horror by, then you couldn’t say there’s been a good horror flick for decades now. All that really matters, at the end of the day, is if it’s done well.
By and large, that’s where DEMON RESURRECTION succeeds. Oh, sure, the acting can get a bit dodgy at times, the production values are a bit suspect here and there, and the dialogue can veer off into “unintentionally camp” territory, but for the most part, everybody here seems to be giving it their best effort. The practical FX work is solid for a modestly-budgeted affair, the sets are cool, the storyline remains reasonably involving throughout, and there’s plenty of blood, guts, and sleaze, which are three things that never go out of style.
All in all, if I were in Hopkins’ shoes, I’d still be trying to promote this film, too, because there’s plenty here to be proud of. I’m not sure it’s corny or cheesy enough to ever achieve “cult sensation” status — frankly, the whole thing would need to be a good deal worse than it is for that — but what’s wrong with a solid effort made by people who know what they’re doing and understand how to construct a competently-executed film with limited resources? Nothing, I say, and the average fan of indie horror is probably going to find plenty here to be reasonably impressed by.
On the technical specs front, the picture and sound on the DVD (and, I’m assuming, the download) are more or less flawless, there’s a reasonably fun little half-hour “making-of” documentary featurette included, there are on-camera interviews with Hopkins and producer Frank Cilla, and Hopkins chimes in with a fairly involving and interesting full-length commentary track. Plenty of bang for your buck to be had here.
No, DEMON RESURRECTION doesn’t re-invent the horror wheel or anything of the sort, but it’s a fairly fun, gory, gripping little ride that will leave you thinking “hey, these guys get it.” That’s more than you can say for a lot of things coming down the indie pipeline these days, and more than enough for me to advise any interested parties out there to give it a go.