Take a ride on the dark side with me as I look at 8 films loaded with demons, possession, exorcists, satanic rituals, witches, hostile ghosts, and devil only knows what else.
THE HOUSE ON WILLOW STREET (2016)
Sharni and a bunch of guys kidnap this young woman from her extravagant home (on Willow Street) and take her to some sort of warehouse (not on Willow Street). She looks damn sinister in a hoodie and shit in her house, so I’m not sure how they didn’t see trouble on the horizon.
They chain her up in a basement while they try to collect ransom from her family…and then she starts to get weird. And they don’t get any answer. Some of them head back to the house (because everyone’s so busy on their phones these days no one just visits anymore) and discover the reason no one’s answering…signs of an exorcism gone horribly wrong. And luckily, priests still use VHS tapes, because the truth is all revealed on a video.
Meanwhile, back at the warehouse, the lights go out, Sharni is forced to go down to the basement to fiddle with the fuse box, and…well…yeah, that’s where they have the chick chained up.
Now this is my kind of movie. All The Exorcist shit already took place and we just get little snippets of it on a video, so we’re left with more of a sleek, modernized Night of the Demons scenario as everyone starts going demon, levitating, and lashing out with slithery tongues.
This little piggy went EEK! EEK! EEK! all the way home to the shelves of my movie collection.
With movies like Scary Movie 5, April Apocalypse, and Vampire Academy already under her belt, Sarah Hyland of Modern Family fame seems to be setting herself up for the scream queen period of her career. And it’s fine by me because she screams her lungs out in Satanic.
Satanic is a simple little film that worked for me because it follows a really basic premise yet adds a bizarre touch of surrealism at the end that’s quite chilling. You just have to go with the notion that there’s no telling how the darker dimension will present itself when it comes for you. These warped planes of existence weren’t uncommon in horror a few decades ago, but there’s less willingness to embrace fantastical horror scenarios in the age of concrete horror (as in, it’s not horror unless someone’s head is bashed in with a piece of concrete).
So this group of four friends decides to take a tour of true crime locations (for instance, the home in which the Manson family massacred Sharon Tate and friends). They use a Ouija board to contact spirits in a hotel in which murders occurred, with no effect.
It seems like the usual lame-assed hunt for cheap horror thrills…until they witness a satanic ritual at one location. It’s when they attempt to do the right thing and save one girl from being sacrificed that they really piss off the devil…
Forget running into the light. These dimwits run directly into the dark, which seems to be nothing more than a maze of sheets with pentagrams painted on them. But holy fuck does shit get messed up before all is said and done. Sarah Hyland is officially initiated into the world of horror now, for sure.
Incarnate is more of a mainstream possession/exorcism film with a bit of a The Cell spin on it, which is a cool, fresh approach to this tired subgenre.
Cutie Aaron Eckhart (I, Frankenstein) plays an exorcist who is not an exorcist, dammit. He doesn’t believe in all that religious bullshit. He is a scientist that can go into the minds of possessed people and fight their demons, or as he calls it, evicting their inner parasites (Screw you, Aaron! Don’t you ever call me a parasite…unless I’m sucking your dick).
Considering he goes in and battles things that terrify the possessed person in fairly natural environments – a nightclub, carnival – it’s sort of like he’s just jumping into their nightmares. But the focus is on one boy, played by David Mazouz (The Darkness), whose behavior and blacked out eyes make it pretty clear he’s possessed.
Fairly entertaining if not exactly hardcore demon/possession action here, but the scene in which the boy becomes possessed is sort of lame after starting off quite effective. Some demon bitch crawling on the ceiling drops down on top of him and…BAM. He decks her and he’s possessed.
DEATH NOTE (2017)
I’m clueless about the Asian animated series, movies, whatever, so I’m going to take this film on its own merits. It comes to us from Adam Wingard – who first got my attention with his gory indie Home Sick before going big time with segments in the V/H/S franchise and films like You’re Next, Blair Witch, and The Guest.
Like The Guest, Death Note isn’t a traditional “horror” movie, but has horror elements as it tells a wickedly engrossing story, something Wingard knows how to do like few others do these days. His movies bring me back to the days of cable faves from the 80s, which is why it’s no surprise the soundtrack includes songs like “Don’t Change” by INXS, “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin, I Don’t Wanna Live Without Your Love” by Chicago, and “The Power of Love” by Air Supply. Awesome.
The story is about a bullied kid who scores big time when a book falls out of the sky and brings with it a demon that’s sort of like a genie…it gives him the power to kill off the fuckers who torture him.
All he has to do is write down exactly how he wants them to die in the book and it happens. But this kid decides to use his powers for good…to kill off evil criminal bastards.
There are some gory good Final Destination deaths early on, and the demon is initially freaky as hell.
But he becomes more of an evil pest (voiced by Wilem Dafoe), manipulating matters so the seemingly good deeds of taking out the bad guys backfire on the kid. The U.S. government proves to be much faster at gathering evidence that there’s some kid using a magic book and a demon to supernaturally kill criminals than they are at gathering the necessary evidence to throw a president in jail for handing the country over to Russia, which leads to the film shifting into action/thriller territory.
ISLAMIC EXORCIST (2017)
When all is said and done, it seems this film just tosses the word “Islamic” into the title to be provocative, because it’s really just another demon/possession film. Actually, it has somewhat of a throwback feel to all the foreign knockoff films of The Exorcist from the 1970s, which alone makes it kind of fun.
Confronting demonic possession in her own life, a reporter goes to the home of a woman whose hairy hot husband killed their adopted daughter in a case that the woman believes had to do with possession. The woman begins to tell her story of how it all went down…
This is a part ghost/part possession movie as the woman begins to see entities all over their new house, becomes attached to this girl that sort of just wanders into their life, and then begins exhibiting signs of demonic possession.
It’s all entertaining enough with cheap scares and some cheesy good possession clichés, but there’s nothing new here…until the end!
The final moments deliver the real twist and set this story apart from all the other possession films out there.
DARKSIDE WITCHES (2015)
Darkside Witches has so much going for it – softcore sex and nudity, super gore, a perverse combo of both, CGI creatures, totally demonic monster witches…
…and even a priest that does some hardcore exorcism work in Africa before going on a hunt for a gaggle of witches back from the past and ready for revenge.
Then the movie makes a crucial mistake; it tries to tell a fucking story!
All this epic bullshit comes in about the past, there are too many characters and backstory, and shit turns into a major heaven and hell battle with fire and brimstone and all that crap.
Somehow this film forgets the promises it made when it opened with a chick running through the woods with her tits out and having her heart ripped out by a flying CGI witch…
…and a skanky bartender blowing a hunk before turning into a gnarly demon, biting off his dick, and then riding the bloody nub.
Come on. You don’t just throw away such a brilliant cum face performance by tacking a fricking story onto the film.
Mmm, girl, I know it. Savor that pre-cum.
GHOSTS OF DARKNESS (2017)
Actually, these two guys, a psychic and a debunker, are not quite buddies at first. They are called to a house where a daughter killed her parents and are given an assignment: stay the night and prove the house is haunted. Naturally, there’s friction between them. The psychic is the snarky fun one.
The debunker is cute, but he’s so serious and in no mood to play around. And even though his character is still grieving the loss of a wife, the guy really came across to me like a gay Matt Bomer. Yeah, I know exactly what I just said.
It is the debunker who begins seeing creepy ghosts first, and the haunting begins to escalate.
These are no ordinary ghosts – they look all zombie-like and demon-like and shit.
Good stuff. Especially the main bad ass demon/ghost/zombie whatever the frick he is.
Ghosts of Darkness pretty much just takes the whole overplayed, overrated Insidious/The Conjuring/Oculus horror trend and has some fun with it.
Demon movie Gorenos doesn’t really have the budget to do much more than tell an entertaining story, so there’s no demon, making this essentially a ghost movie in which you never see the ghost, just people dying because of the ghost.
A good time is had playing up the two main buddies’ love of horror films right from the start. Their opening scene talking about horror and then getting spooked makes it feel like this is going to be a horror comedy.
However, it does eventually turn serious…after they hit up a strip joint and get some major booty in their faces.
Seems the one kid, who’s celebrating his eighteenth birthday, has a demon on his ass…and it’s killing all his friends.
Ken Sagoes, best known as Kincaid in Elm Street 3, appears as a guy who knows a thing or two about demons and clues him in on the details of his problem and how to stop it.
And the main kid’s brother, although an asshole, is adorable.
Thing is, with no special effects or actual demon, the plot plays out almost entirely in dialogue, making Gorenos neither a very suspenseful nor very scary experience.