Suicide hurts. But there are worse things.
“Evil has a new face but whose face is it?”
Director/Writer: Arjun Rose / Cast: Robert Sheehan, Jennie Jacques, Ashley Walters, Jason Maza, Jacob Anderson, Jack Doolan, Shanika Warren-Markland, Femi Oyeniran, Patrick Baladi, Andrew Ellis, Emma Rigby, Reggie Yates, Tulisa Contostavlos.
Body Count: 14
Dire-logue: “Lesbos? That’s not gay – that’s entertainment.”
A few years back, Britain chucked out a little slasher flick called Tormented about nasty school kids being offed by the undead ghost of the boy they all bullied to suicide. I didn’t expect another slasher film from these shores for another few decades but here we are with Demons Never Die, a film that barely registered as being out, let alone was played anywhere for more than a few days…
Now, before we begin, this film was exec produced by Idris Elba (from The Wire, Luther and the wretched Prom Night remake) and also socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson. What? I know, right. I saw her on the monorail at Gatwick once. She didn’t look happy. Anyhoo, both of them had the sense not to be in it, although I imagine a cameo by Elba might’ve helped at the box office.
At least with Elba’s name attached, surely there’s going to be something going for it? Well, yes and no. Demons Never Die is without doubt one of the strangest films, let alone slasher films, that I’ve seen in a long, long time. At times I questioned whether my own memory was failing me as things just seemed to happen on screen from nowhere and for no apparent reason.
It begins with a teary Tulisa Constastovalovatolos – she of irredeemably dire ‘urban’ trio N-Dubz and, more recently, the X-Factor judging panel – scribbling the word ‘Murder’ on a refill pad. She makes a call, cries some more, her dad comforts her, goes away, comes back, and finds her dead.
Turns out she was part of a secret club of assorted teens from a London community college who all want to commit suicide for reasons not abundantly clear. They just do. Local cops Reggie Yates (the Radio 1 DJ who always gets chart positions wrong) and ex-So Solid Crewee, Asher D, chalk it up as a suicide and somehow know to start following her friends around.
Crazy cockney Kenny wants to go out with a bang (literally) as a whole group and has a journo-student/lackie following him around with a camera; Archie thinks he loves Jasmine, who questions her own sanity, except when she’s attacked by a knife-toting masked loon. Then there’s stoner Cain, overweight loner James, and two others who don’t seem to have any problems whatsoever.
Another member – and Hollyoaks cast member – of the club is stabbed to death and, somehow, this is also thought to be self-murder. Archie and Jasmine have sex. The other four lesser characters do some drugs and decide life IS worth living after all and everyone drops out of the suicide pact, much to Kenny’s annoyance, who so decides to shoot them all at an upcoming party.
If I was beginning to frown before, at this juncture my entire head was creased in such a mask of disbelief as I scratched my head and pondered if first-timer Rose was also high while writing this. The actions and motivations of everybody in the whole film makes no sense: The group was so candid about their wishes to die and then seemingly object when someone shows up to help them out. Then, in the blink of an eye, they decide to live after all. The cops (all two of them) don’t seem to detect any homicidal elements in the growing pattern of stabbings, even when one of the teachers and his missus are offed in their home.
Fortunately, things pick up a little at the party. Of course, this happens at a big house in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by woodland (in London!?). The loon shows, stabs some people, and cuts the power, sending most of the partygoers home. This whole setup seems to lead to a future Ridiculous Scene O’ the Month:
- Party hostess leaves group of friends to get a drink.
- Party hostess finds dead body in kitchen.
- Party hostess runs away screaming STRAIGHT PAST the group of teenagers and outside to the trees.
- Party hostess hides behind a tree and watches her friends leave without summoning help.
- Party hostess eventually decides to call out and is knifed before she can utter a word.
It comes down to Archie and Jasmine. The lights are out but they find some nightvision cameras! Wow! What were the odds? The film turns into The Blair Witch Project for the next five minutes until it seems the killer has struck again and Jasmine hobbles outside for help… Reveal time.
I wouldn’t be lying if I said I hadn’t guessed the killer’s identity. But neither will you. It’s just so… random. But in some strange way I was pleased it turned out to be who it did. Their motive was clear as mud, something to do with “wherever there’s pain there are demons,” and a hint that they were filming the killings to sell on to other sickos.
Demons Never Die is a cliche-fest by its slasher metric, pilfering much from the Scream movies: The knifings are seldom gory and the weapon of choice always makes that ‘shing’ sound whenever it’s moved, regardless of what it’s in contact with. The ‘urban’ flavourings are also riddled with stereotypical dialogue and it renders the characters hollow and unsympathetic. The fact that they WANT to die also vaccuums out all available tension: Why root for them to survive if they don’t want to?
Even worse, the most repugnant of the characters isn’t even afforded an on-camera death! The most squandered opportunity since Wendy’s axe-to-the-head was elided in Prom Night (that’s the superior original, Idris).
The topic of suicide is sloppily handled with no real duty-of-care. At least Heathers had the sense to parody the trend; here it’s nothing more than a plot device to tie together a Breakfast Club-esque cross section of college kids. None of these people would socialise in reality, yet we’re expected to believe they all belong to a serious mini-movement that condones ‘trendy’ suicide? It plays a bit irresponsibly in this regard.
That said, I wasn’t bored watching Demons Never Die, I was mainly confused but nevertheless entertained in the way you are watching an episode of Glee: it’s shite but they might do a genial cover version any second now.
It’s important to note that the film was shot in just 18 days on less than £100,000, so to look as polished as it does is quite the impressive feat. The acting isn’t bad either, though some of the players look a tad confused as to what their role is. Brit-grit just doesn’t translate to the genre very well; Tormented had the sense to poke fun at the ridiculousness of its setup and Wilderness pretty much replicated the American model of stranding the cast of an island beyond help.
I would recommend the film only to fellow genre dorks and perhaps fans of some of the players (or those who wish to see them impaled in some way) but it writes itself out of the equation in almost every other conceivable way.