Friday, April 8, 2016

Demons 2

Demons 2
Lamberto Bava

Set at some unspecified time after Demons (1985), it looks like the Demon invasion was quelled and parts of the city that were overrun have been walled off. People in an apartment complex are watching a television program about a group of young explorers who have decided to venture into the deserted part of the city to see what has become of it. They encounter a still living demon and unexpectedly it somehow emerges through a television set and into the apartment complex to start a new wave of terror.

Following up on the massive success of Demons, Demons 2 was rushed into production. The hurried nature of its creation shows, in a film that isn't quite as well-crafted and realized. It still has some power to horrify and surprise but it feels like a mere shadow to what came before it.

The real face of the dog from Family Circus.
 Like Demons, Demons 2 tries to double the events happening on screen with the events happening in the complex but already we are at a disadvantage. Whereas the Metropol itself was a mysterious and sinister theater, the complex is nothing but a building. There is nothing particularly malevolent about the place. Some viewers might have an issue with the odd way the Demon attack gets its start, but I think it works. These are unknown beings and they should operate in unknown ways.

There are some outstanding effects in Demons 2, the aforementioned Demon emerging from the television screen is a simple effect but it is realized marvelously. There is a wonderfully loopy dog transformation, and a nasty child demon. There is a call back to the demon emerging from a victim’s body like in the first film, this time more influenced by Gremlins (1984).

Perhaps the biggest step down for Demons 2 is that is lacks the viciousness of the original. Aside from an extended scene of mayhem in a parking garage, the film pulls its punches too often. This may have been due to a lack of time to put together special effects, or it was an attempt to broaden the appeal of the sequel.

The main reason I won't buy a 4k television.
The strongest element of the film is its pacing. It wastes little time building up the mystery of what became of the invading monsters, before one shows up in the apartment complex. From there, things degrade rapidly for the survivors as they are under nearly constant assault. What few moments of rest come along are not restful at all, as both characters and viewer know that the next attack could come at any time.

On its own merits, Demons 2 is a good, almost great film. Compared to its predecessor, it is a pale imitation. By all means if you haven’t seen it, take a look, just remember to temper your expectations.  Despite its shortcomings, Demons 2 still manages to be iconic horror film in the pantheon of 1980s Italian horror.

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