New Horror Releases: The Demonologist (2018) - Reviewed

Starring old Charmed and Sleepwalkers heartthrob Brian Krause, The Demonologist (2018) has an overwhelming made-for-TV feel about it from the beginning. This softcore horror is directed by JM Stelly, known mostly for an array of short films and other credits not familiar to me, but I doubt that The Demonologist will change that vague reputation anytime soon.

The story revolves around Detective Damien Seryph (Krause), who investigates a string of murders that connects to a group trying to bring forth the Four King Demons of Hell. Damien's past connects him to those involved and will force him to become The Demonologist. Now, apart from the obviously corny name of the lead character reminding us of a bad graphic novel trying to be mysterious, the film is actually not bad. 

It will not make your head spin, but the effects and make-up is juicy enough to chew on while you yawn your way through actress Manon Pages’ bland and one-dimensional charade as the villain. As Meredith - the Bathory-inspired demoness – Pages’ (Purgatory Road and Unintentional Community) performance comes across as forced and unnatural. She is unconvincing as a threat, which is regrettable in a position where she could have made the blood curdle. However, with a hot demon bod like hers, who cares if her character is weak and hardly iniquitous at best? 

The Demonologist is a lovely mix of one-part Cop Flick and one-part Horror, which mingles surprisingly well somewhere in the middle. What appears to be a slew of serial murders with occult undercurrents, soon become more to Detective Seryph when he realizes that his involvement is deeper rooted than he thought and he becomes part of the nightmare he chases.

The supporting cast is solid, comprising of Jared Bankens, also seen in Venom (2018) and Quarry (2016) and Dane Rhodes, a theatre actor that steals the show as Seryph’s police sidekick. Both actors deliver a strong, palpable performance that carries the character-driven premise well.

Unfortunately the film relies on a lot of tricks and previously exhausted facets like the old Bathory-fetish, the obligatory blind medium and those predictable rituals any occult or supernatural connoisseur will find tedious. Having said that, the film does reflect a wonderful authenticity in its more intricate subject matter that combats its impending descent into becoming the poor man’s Constantine.
Technically, the sound mixing mostly reveals the indie quality and the set design is a tad lazy for the advent of Hell’s Kings rising, but the previously mentioned effects is a pleasure to watch as the popcorn crunches. We enjoy moments where the daytime soap vibe switches to a delicious orgy of demonic graphics that somehow reminded me of Spawn (1997) or even Faust: Love of the Damned (2000) in places.

Ultimately, The Demonologist is nothing new, but the subject exposition, Manon Pages’ beauty and the blissful culmination of decent effects into an action-fueled detective thriller might just make you believe that there is more to the grit of reality, under the skin of chaos.

--Tasha Danzig