Demons Never Die 2011
aka Suicide Kids
Directed by: Arjun Rose
Starring: Robert Sheehan, Ashley Waters, Jason Maza
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Oh Tulisa Tulisa. A couple of months ago I posted a review of Nine Lives here on the site. Admittedly it’s a hunk of junk, but the fact that it had a cameo from alcoholic nympho Paris Hilton, meant that at least it had some minor sense of allure. Well here we have Demons Never Die, one of the few slasher flicks produced in 2011. Ok so there’s no Gucci bag clenching heiresses in sight, but it does include a walk on appearance from Tulisa Contostavlos aka the new Cheryl Tweedy. (Just before finishing this review, I noticed she also has a sex tape floating about)
Hands up who watches X Factor? Come on boys, you’re only lying to yourself if you say no. Not many people know this, but I’ve had an action packed life so far and I once got through a couple of auditions for the big X. I sang Enrique Iglesias’ Hero to a producer and she said, “Yes!” What a great day that was. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those that watch every show with my One Direction t-shirt on and my phone in my palm. I do however have it on in the background while the Mrs remains transfixed and if I could recreate that magic feeling when I got the golden ticket and sell it on to everyone that I know… Well let’s just say coke dealers in London would be out of business. Was it really that good? Heeeell yeah!
Anyway back to the film, or kind of. So Tulisa’s success as the Cheryl replacement on the aforementioned programme has pushed her celebrity status up a few thousand notches and Arjun Rose (cool name) has capitalised on that timing to get her in a bit part here. Did she improve sales amongst teeny-boppers? I would say probably yes. Does she improve the movie in any way outside of eye candy? I would definitely say no. Funnily enough she grew up in the same part of London as me and we obviously both come from ‘other’ European heritage, which is noticeable by our (not so) ‘strong British names’. The difference is that she is now a millionaire celebrity and me… Well I’m definitely not. But hey, it’s not all doom and gloom, I get to review slasher films for you peeps every day.
When a girl is mistakenly thought to have taken her own life, a gang of youngsters reveal a suicide pact. They plan to go out with a bang and decide to set-up a memorable occasion. In the meantime, they seem to be getting help in the form of a masked maniac. Who could it be that’s killing them off?
Back in the days when Internet was still growing, a small company called Google was desperately looking for an injection of cash. They had two meetings with Yahoo CEO Terry Selem over dinner with the possibility of a take-over. Larry Page was not over keen on selling, but admitted that an offer of $3billion would be tough to turn down. Selem was furious at the proposal and felt he had a much better plan B. “Five billion dollars, seven billion, ten billion. I don’t know what they’re really worth and you don’t either,” he told his staff. “There’s no fucking way we’re going to do this!” So talks closed down, both chased their own projects and went their separate ways. Some ten years later, Google reported gross profits of $7.8 billion in Q4 of 2011, whilst Yahoo managed $1.08. Selem is now in a different employment and Yahoo missed the chance to be the undisputed kings of the internet. That my friends is what you would call a bad decision.
Do you want to hear about another?
Ok check this out. You put together the funds to make a slasher movie. In a haze of trying to be original, some bright spark comes up with a maniac killing off people that want to die. No, seriously. So this brings up a major problem. How do you build an affinity with people that the killer is in effect helping? Now don’t get me wrong, the story does attempt to divert from this by revealing the ‘shock’ decision that they change their minds and actually decide against it. But the thing is that by that point we are left with a bunch of cardboard cut out personalities and no one really to bond to.
Demons is obviously heavily inspired by Wes Craven’s Scream and includes a multitude of references. Many of them reach beyond the realms of just ‘inspiration’ in to flagrant cut, copy and paste territory. For a genre that has survived on its ability to self reference, this is all acceptable if it’s handled correctly. Rose’s script lacks charm however and the wit to accompany its lack of authenticity and energy. Capable actors are left without a challenging depth to their characters and therefore have no possibility to shine.
As slasher movies are not renowned for their strengths in dramatics, complexity in plotting or philosophical messages, they can only really aim for two emotions. The first and most obvious is fear; – everybody loves a good scare. The only other is fun, which is what I enjoy most about the genre. Demons however gets lost in its attempt to convey a message that doesn’t particularly get clarified. This means that it sacrifices any good time vibe; and the patent lack of technical flair destroys the possibility of a fear factor. There’s a large-ish body count, a few attempts to mimic horror classics such as The Blair Witch Project and an unclear but interesting motive. It all feels like it’s been wrapped up in ten-year-old sellotape though and is poorly structured, stupidly scripted and painstakingly feeble because of that.
I saw some positive reviews floating around about this, but I didn’t find anything here that would warrant someone purchasing it. I mean, what’s the moral of the story? What’s the point? Don’t commit suicide because a maniac will come and kill you? I wouldn’t care about the lack of logic if it at least had something, anything to cover up the obvious amateurism. I grew up in the kind of areas that this attempts to convey. The thing is that some of the people I knew back then lacked an education or anything really to offer the tough society that we lived in. None of them however were dumb enough to run in to a dimly lighted forest instead of to the nearest crowd of people after witnessing a murder, which these poorly-developed personas seem to do consistently.
The only thing worth anything here is one song on the soundtrack. Congratulations to Jessie J; a great example of the talent of London youth. As for Arjun Rose, a former stockbroker, he needs to try harder…
Final Girl: √√
Fright Flick 2011
Directed by: Israel Luna
Starring: Chad Allen, Richard D. Curtin, Todd Jenkins
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
So what did you slasher fans think of 2011? Thirty-three years after the release of Halloween and the genre is again going through something of a lull. The biggest flick of the year was the fourth chapter in the Scream trilogy, which to be fair was a bit of a flop, but most surprising was the amount (or therefore lack) of DTV entries that were financed by up and coming filmmakers. Now since the success of the original Scream, Brain Damage and the like have been rolling out slashers by the bucket load, but this year it all came to a thundering halt with very few hitting the ex-rental DVD sale section of Blockbusters. It’s become so bad that I’m longing for the likes of To Become One, Camp Blood and Paranoid again. Ok, so that’s an exaggeration, but you catch my drift
Fright Flick was one of those that snuck out last year, but even that’s not entirely proof that there’s still a desire to make these films, as it was completed in 2008. Shot in Dallas on a minimal budget by Texan filmmaker Israel Luna, who had received high praise for his camp cult/revenge flick Ticked-off Trannies with Knives, it was one I had been keen to see.
A group of filmmakers are preparing to shoot the third and final sequel to the ‘Fright Flick’ series, but almost as soon as production begins, there’s obvious animosity and jealousy on the set between the cast and crew. The franchise has something of a morbid history as during the development of the first chapter, the lead actress was murdered by an unseen assailant. As soon as shooting begins, it becomes apparent that the maniac has returned and the people involved begin to die at the gloved hand of the killer…
Many slasher movies have chosen film productions as a backdrop for slaughter and it is as good a reason as any to place a group of victims against a maniacal nut job. Although Fright Flick makes good use of its synopsis, it doesn’t try to blur its film within a film fantasy so much with the slashertastic reality of what’s going on. Cinematically, I guess you could say that this was closest in its structure to that underrated gem, Return to Horror High, but it’s hard to tell if that’s intentional or not. There have been so many parodies by now of the flicks of old that at times it feels like there are no ideas left to mock. Luna’s self-penned script however gets the mix of humour and horror spot on, by keeping the references flowing but restricted to only a couple of major genre pictures. The hints are so subtle that at times I was unaware if they were deliberate or not, but then in the final third, the director reveals that he’s done his homework as we see a neat homage to Halloween II, Friday the 13th (heavy) and believe it or not, Pieces. It was delivered with finesse and without giving too much away, I loved the closing sequence and remember thinking, ‘Are they really going to go there?’ Go there they did and it was a perfect OTT and fitting finale.
Israel Luna is a proud member of his local gay community and if I hadn’t just told you that, you’d easily have guessed it by watching this film (and Ticked-Off Trannies most definitely). Almost every male character here is either homo or bi-sexual and he camps them up to the max, which leads to a few intentional laughs. There are jokes that are targeted specifically at gay film fans, but as a straight guy, I also enjoyed them. There’s pretty much something here for all genre enthusiasts and if you keep in mind that the first thing(s) on-screen are an enormous pair of silicone lady lumps in the most gratuitous ‘shower scene’ anywhere ever, you will know pretty much what to expect.
There’s quite a bit of gore too and the opening few murders are creative and fast paced. We get a tripod through the skull, a smart decapitation (one of two) and the most ingenious ‘garden shear murder’ that I have seen for a while. I wasn’t over enamoured with Luna’s direction; I mean, there were no stand-out ‘wow’ sequences, but the odd trick he pulled off just about worked. The ‘turn on the light’ sequence in the bathroom was well handled and there were a couple of decent jumps. It’s also worth keeping in mind that the sound wasn’t completed on the rough print I watched, so it’ll probably look a lot better in the final release that you folks will see. What was weird was that whilst the first four of five murders were rock and roll, they started to become a bit same old same old as the film wore on. It’s almost as if the director ran out of ideas later and took us back to basics.
The performances are below average, but passable, it all looks polished enough and it’s a fun popcorn flick that delivers most things you’re looking for from a slasher movie. So is there anything that I hated? Well, to be honest, no not really. The characters are all unlikeable but it seemed like part of the gimmick, so I can’t really complain about that. There were only very few scares, but most modern-day slashers have lost the art of building a foreboding atmosphere, so it’s become par for the course. It’s called Fright Flick, but there’s nothing here very frightening. In fact, there’s nothing at all. It’s not one for people who can’t forgive the odd goof, because it gets very stupid in places, especially in the way that some of the victims are still screaming/moving LONG after they should have been dead.
This is a straight up new age slasher flick that makes the most of a low-budget and aims to give viewers a good time. I would say that it’s better than Gutterballs that was produced around the same time and if you set your expectations low enough, you’ll probably enjoy some of the cool murders and easy-to-recognise references from one of the category faves. Although I would love to see a modern-day entry that captures the chilling environment that we saw in the likes of The Mutilator, House by the Cemetery and The Prowler, until then this is as good as we’ve got – and by now, I am used to it…
Final Girl: √