Demons (2017) and the Quest of Indie Film — A Gehenna Post Review

Greetings from the Ether,

We were given the honor to attend an early screening of Demons, a new horror film from Mississippi powerhouse Miles Doleac (American Horror StoryThe Magnificent Seven). We would first like to thank the director for the invite and for him reaching out to the Gehenna Post. We hope this will be the first of many, many more early reviews.

Alas, let’s begin!

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Still from Demons (2017)

Former priest Colin Hampstead turns to a career as an author after an attempted exorcism goes wrong. The victim of said possession is none other than the younger sister of the woman he later marries. Together, and many years after the tragic incident, they battle the demons that aim to put them down, coming to realizations and truths about themselves in the process.

Now, the first thing that must be noted and thoroughly considered, is the fact that this film is not a Hollywood blockbuster. It is not on tier with many Oscar-nominated films. For average moviegoers, the experience may not be what they would hope. Nonetheless, the ability to admire the work that these artists put their hearts and souls into, with the limited resources they had, is something that we should take into acknowledgment.

There are good performances here, most notably from John Schneider (Smallville), Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster), and Steven Brand (The Scorpion King). Unlike previous outings with Doleac as director, he chose (in a risk that truly paid off) to put other cast members to the forefront. The character of Colin (played by Miles Doleac) is well done, as all of the director’s onscreen performances have been to date, but he truly gave the floor to other stars in a way that hasn’t been seen and this was perhaps one of the most respectable decisions made.

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Poster from Demons (2017)

Doleac’s previous directorial and starring outings, The Historian and The Hollow were both in the field of drama, one being a cinematic academia-based investigation, and the latter being a southern crime noir. Stepping into the realm of horror was brave, and though Doleac doesn’t have the most experience in this genre, his skill as a director and screenwriter shine through. There are some solid scares and a few very intense moments throughout the film, while maintaining a structure that is at times changing pretty fast-paced, but at other times seamless. During the Q&A, we asked the director about the challenges he faced tackling the genre of horror, and he said something that we found to be very truthful, horror is “character-driven.” The reveals and expanding plot development surrounding the possession and why it happened are exactly that. This, Doleac nailed on the head.

Keeping in mind the struggles that indie filmmakers face in today’s industry, Doleac continues to impress with the resources he is given. In the Q&A after the film, the director revealed that the script was written relatively quickly, and despite the rushed nature of this animal’s creation, there is some honest storytelling to be seen. If the director can write a screenplay like this in such a short time, one can only imagine his capabilities if given the proper resources and time.

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Still from Demons (2017)

Demons has flaws, and doesn’t quite surpass what The Hollow achieved, but it is still worth watching, and more importantly, worth supporting. In a day and age where independent filmmakers struggle to gain recognition and have to work endlessly and tirelessly to produce a movie, it is more important now than ever to support indie films. As Doleac pointed out in the Q&A, the theater industry is dying and it is near impossible to work from the ground up, setting your own foundations in the process.

Many facets of the film didn’t work but the ones that did made up for it. It will be interesting to see where Doleac goes from here and if he chooses to pursue horror again. We are excited to see his progression as a director, actor, and screenwriter. We encourage you, our readers, to watch this film and to support indie film-making. Demons is not The Exorcist or The Conjuring but we hope it is the first in an ever-improving filmography from Miles Doleac.

Stream the film on Amazon.

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A photo with Demons director Miles Doleac after the screening.
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