I love me some demon movies…when they’re worth loving. Did any of these four make my heart beat faster? Let’s find out.
THE MIDNIGHT MAN (2016)
The Midnight Man begins with three children playing a supernatural game in the dark in a gorgeous old house in 1953. They’ve unleashed a cloaked creep shrouded in shadow and need to stay safe from him for a certain amount of time. It doesn’t go well.
Much like the child-centric scene that opens Darkness Falls, this scene sets your expectations up then doesn’t deliver. The Midnight Man just gets worse as it progresses.
In the current day, a young woman who never bothers to turn on a light is living in the house with her grandmother, who has dementia and is really creepy. So who do you get for this type of part to add cliché name recognition to your horror film? Lin Shaye, of course.
As freaky as Lin is in this dark house, it doesn’t seem to spook her granddaughter at all. Actually, little seems to, because other than Lin, the acting in this film is absolute cardboard. The lack of expression from the other characters sucks the life out of…life.
Two of the main girl’s friends come over, they find the Midnight Man game, and they spend the rest of the movie running around in the dark trying to keep candles lit so the Midnight Man won’t get them. Robert Englund, playing Lin’s doctor and giving us an Elm Street 1 and New Nightmare reunion in the process, stops in a few times to pick up a paycheck.
All the gory “kills” don’t really happen because the Midnight Man is just messing with them, using their deepest fears to scare them. Good luck trying to decipher what exactly most of their deepest fears are because little is concrete here. Would you believe this rabbit actually makes the most sense?
This would have been a better film if it focused on young children entirely, because this is a boogeyman character that is actually quite frightening as the stuff of youthful nightmares.
DEVIL’S REVENGE (2019)
Director Jared Cohn (The Horde, Hold Your Breath, Halloween Pussy Trap Kill! Kill!, Little Dead a Rotting Hood) gives us a movie with William Shatner that doesn’t even rise to the level of SyFy bad. For starters, Shatner is there just to do the Shatner shtick while throwing around the F bomb as much as possible. It seems funny at first, but it wears thin fast.
Shatner’s son is trying to hunt down an ancient relic for him in a cave. When things go horribly wrong, he comes home and is haunted by demons. The demons are the highlight of the film…in a cheesy SyFy way.
Shatner’s son walks around in a daze for a while, Shatner tells him to go back for the relic again, and so he packs up the whole family to travel there in an RV. The dude is being terrorized by supernatural demons after leaving the cave, so he brings his whole family back there???
This is a movie in which one long stretch of nothing happening is followed by another long stretch of nothing happening. On top of that, when it’s all over, it makes no sense.
DEVIL’S GATE (2017)
Devil’s Gate starts with a bang. A man approaches a farmhouse for help after his car breaks down, and things go gruesomely wrong.
Shawn Ashmore is the town deputy working with an FBI agent after the wife and son of a religious nut that lives in the farmhouse go missing.
Milo Ventimiglia is the religious nut. And he really seems nuts. He has the house boarded up and the basement door bolted. When the authorities come to the house to talk to him, the shit hits the fan.
Milo believes he is holding a demon captive, but this film quickly takes a turn that reminded me of Dark Skies starring Keri Russell, which I feel like revisiting now—I wasn’t a fan when I first saw it.
As for Devil’s Gate, it turns out to be a surprise creature feature. The creatures look great, the effects are excellent, and the visual presentation is tight. It does, however, get a bit repetitive as it continuously drives its point home. I liked it, but didn’t love it.
THE EVIL DOWN THE STREET (2019)
I should have just walked away when the words “inspired by true events” came up on the screen, because when it comes to possession and demons, if it’s based on true events, it means nothing truly frightening happens…unless it’s based on the bullshit stories of those scam artists the Warrens, and then its tween scares galore.
So, yeah. Nothing happens.
A family moves into a new house. They find a Ouija board.
The mother uses it. The mother starts acting odd.
They talk to a priest. She still acts weird. They bring in an exorcist. She still acts weird. No special effects, no demon voices, no nothing. Just…a knife.