Demons Never Die (2012)

Directed By: Arjun Rose
Written By: Arjun Rose
Starring: Robert Sheehan
  Ashley Walters
  Jason Maza
  Jennie Jacques
Demons Never Die

Tulisa from N-Dubz. Ashley Walters from So Solid Crew. Reggie Yates who presents Top of the Pops sometimes. If these are a few of your favourite things, then Demons Never Die will certainly appeal. Featuring a kickin’ urban soundtrack, guns, knives, teen suicide, constant fucking swearing, half the cast of Adulthood / Kidulthood / Anuvahood and that oddly loveable bloke from Misfits, Demons Never Die is screamingly “urban” and intentionally so. This might put off a lot of the horror crowd, who may think “what a load of chav nonsense”, but it really shouldn’t. Demons Never Die is surprisingly good. And yes, Reggie Yates is actually in it. That isn’t a joke.

When a group of outcast teenagers form a suicide pact, they start to realize the value of their own lives when a hooded killer (a killer in a hoodie! Wielding a knife! Told you it was urban!) begins executing them one-by-one.. and soon they find themselves fighting to save their own lives instead of ending them. Oh the irony!

Demons Never Die is the feature debut from writer / director Arjun Rose. Whereas the script is occasionally a little predictable, Rose ensures he makes up for any potentially boring “speaky” moments by showing off his directorial flare; a multi-person webcam conversation, the fantastic character / actor introduction scene and a drugged up love-in inside a toilet cubicle all work very well. What could’ve been a genuinely dull-looking slasher flick actually becomes a visually interesting, compelling little horror and Rose should be bloody proud. Some may find his style trite and intrusive, but I personally enjoyed Rose‘s invention.

Rather conversely, the major disappointment in Demons Never Die is the violence. The deaths. The murdering. For a horror it is particularly weak; it isn’t inventive enough, it isn’t brutal enough, it isn’t bloody enough. It skimps on the horror, borders on cliché (night-vision cameras? Way overdone) and simply isn’t remotely scary. This again falls on the shoulders of Rose, who seems to have tipped the balance away from horror towards urban character-drama.

Rose does accidentally (or deliberately?) homage 80′s slasher flicks by ensuring each character pays for their sins. Takes drugs? Dead. Premarital sex? Dead. Gay? Dead. It’s an archaic approach, but not horribly intrusive – it’s just a shame he didn’t match the 80’s love of blood and guts. The identity of the killer is also massively predictable, as the red-herrings are laid out on a platter for you to see and dismiss. Some may be surprised by the “reveal” but most horror fans will laugh at its obviousness. Despite this disappointing horror fail, Rose is certainly a talent to watch out for in the future. Expect big things from Arjun Rose.

I mentioned acting earlier and this is a mixed bag. Ashley Walters as a police detective is hilariously miscast, whacking out a voiceover that simply doesn’t work on any level, X-Factor favourite Tulisa is hardly noticeable and Reggie Yates barely does anything (thankfully) except hang around with Ashley Walters in an ill-fitting detective’s coat.

The real stars of Demons Never Die are the young suicide-pacters, most notably Robert Sheehan, Jason Maza and Jennie Jacques. You genuine believe all these “kids” and it’s surprising how much you care for them. Maza is superb throughout and a massively underrated actor. The relationship between Sheenan’s Archie and Jacques’ Jasmine is especially compelling and they sell it perfectly – I have high hopes for them in the future.

Overall Demons Never Die is neither ground-breaking or godawfully terrible. It fails miserably to bring the horror, but excels in characterisation. More solid urban-drama than brutal slasher flick, Demons Never Die is a decent if mismanaged horror film. Worth it for some of the performances and the emergence of Arjun Rose’s talent, I suggest you take a punt and watch this – you might be pleasantly surprised.

Rating: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

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