Streaming Releases: Demon Hunter (2017) - Reviewed

Outsider teenager is given remarkable powers at a terrible cost. Zoe Cavanaugh's piecemeal fantasy horror film takes this egregiously tired plotline and pumps a surprising amount of heart into what would otherwise be yet another forgettable genre offering. Sly camerawork, proficient practical makeup effects, and a perfectly niche central performance elevate Demon Hunter to fun night on the couch territory. 

Taryn is a supernatural warrior whose traumatic childhood fuels her quest for revenge against demonic entities that walk among us. Her quest becomes more complicated when she is arrested after her latest kill, bringing her face to face with old enemies and the bitterness of broken promises. Niamh Hogan gives an adequate performance, using Tony Flynn and Cavanaugh's script to both revel in the low budget camp and yet, often defy some of the conventions with sequences of genuine pain and intensity. The first scene is an expectedly cheesy fight scene that is then upended by a chilling meditation on the past that is dolloped throughout the remainder of the film. This is when Demon Hunter it is at its best. The budget limits any sense of grandeur when it comes to combat, and unfortunately, when the title of your film involves the hunting of demonic creatures, it is essential to the experience. Despite this uncomfortable truth, the film is not without its charms.

The makeup effects for the creatures has a patchwork feel that emulates the lone savior vibe of the film, with each of the monsters appearing as if they stepped out of an ‘80s cult film with an unusually strong, but flawed protagonist. There are a variety of ways that the makeup effects are applied that keep the creatures fresh, yet, due to the aforementioned budget issues, Luca Rocchini's spitfire cinematography overwhelms the magic, spinning around combatants and using harsh reds and sepias to create a maelstrom around Hogan as she battles. Mario Bortas' editing compliments this approach, obfuscating the low-level production values to convey a goth drenched urban fantasy that feels as if it got up and walked off a Young Adult bookshelf and onto the screen.

I eat demons for breakfast
 Brian Grieco and Scott Voxillary's synth infused score is another guilty pleasure, allowing the viewer to time both danger and triumph whenever they arrive, accompanied by ominous tones and celebratory chords that enshroud Demon Hunter's mythology of the absurd in a perfect ‘80s drenched homage. Ultimately, Demon Hunter is a passable thriller that scratches the Buffy the Vampire Slayer itch. If you're in the mood for an above average monster film, this may suffice, and possibly surprise with its unique plot twists, intriguing combinations of narrative elements, and slick camerawork that combine to present a charming love letter to cult cinema.

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