DEMONIC – written and directed by Neill Blomkamp – SPOILERS
It begins in a dream in which Carly (Carly Pope) wanders through the dry grass surrounding a disused institutional-appearing building, calling out to her mother (who does not answer). She finds her mother (Angela, played by Nathalie Boltt) in one of the rooms inside. “Don’t you see what you’re standing in?” her mother says, then tosses a lit match toward her, and the room is set alight. Carly wakes, and her alarm is going off with a steady, rapid beeping. (I will always remember Carly Pope as travel agent Sonia Brauer in the MOTIVE episode “Ruthless”. Like that episode, DEMONIC is a story in which much is left unsaid, and again Pope delivers an exceptional performance.)
When she gets to her car she receives a text from Martin (Chris William Martin), an old friend from whom she had not heard in six or seven years, asking to “catch up”. Immediately thereafter, she gets a call from another old friend, Sam (Kandyse McClure) who is house-sitting nearby. She visits Sam, and never does get to work, because, after that, she texts Michael back and agrees to meet. Martin tells her that he was contacted to participate in some sort of focus group but left when he realized that the hospital patient who was the subject of said group was Carly’s mother (who had years earlier been convicted of going on a spontaneous homicidal spree). He warns Carly that these same people are likely to contact her. They do that, and Carly agrees to go see them. She is persuaded to visit her comatose mother in a virtual reality created by her mother’s mind, which turns out to be quite similar to the world of her own dreams.
Not to reveal too much about things, but Carly has progressively scary dreams. (One of them calls to mind the contortionist spirit of THE GRUDGE.) There is a disturbing scene in which Michael and his assistant Daniel (Terry Chen) watch Carly in her bedroom waking from one of these dreams on the same monitor they previously used to display Angela’s virtual reality. (Not saying that Michael J Rogers is being typecast, but his character on the Freeform series SIREN (2018) engaged in similar espionage activity.) And it comes to light that one of the Vatican’s high-tech, demon-hunting black-ops units (!) is really behind the entire operation. There is an ancient sword that has been in the Vatican for about 1,000 years which is the only thing that will kill at least this particular demon which appears to be a raven/human hybrid obsessed with fire.
Carly Pope had this to say to Screen Rant about that very scary scene in Carly’s living room: “Troy James is a contortionist that is phenomenal; that is so incredible. He’s also the loveliest person on earth, but he’s an actor and contortionist. Neil knew about him and his skills…it was all done practically. It was all done in-camera, and all the stunts – which are minimal – everything was real. Everything happened on the day, and as a result, it was really a pleasure to shoot because there was so much natural adrenaline.”
Neill Blomkamp told Jennelle Riley of Variety about how Carly’s virtual reality world was created: “The process is called volumetric capture. It’s unlike motion capture, so it’s unlike the process of a typical motion capture audiences are used to. Motion capture would apply the motion of a body or facial capture to something artists build separately. This version is: Your actors are in hair and makeup and wardrobe — that is how they look. The only difference is that instead of filming them with a film camera, you’re capturing them in 3D.”
DEMONIC is currently in theatres worldwide, and is available on all VOD outlets.