The Demon Inside centers on Sam Parsons (Joseph Rene, Run, Race to Win) and the haunting of his family, wife Courtney Parsons (Madeline Thelton, Alabama Dirt, Big Bad) and daughter Harper (newcomer Chole Lee), by a sinister presence. Sam is initially having a hard time after his stint in the big house, but the adjustment becomes impossible after a demon shows up. Out of options and realizing that he must protect his family somehow, Sam calls upon the “Ghost Killers” to help him extract the demon from his home.
The Demon Inside is, for the most part, a well-made film that does a fantastic job of storytelling, character building, and is overall entertaining throughout. Sam and Courtney Parsons are extremely likeable characters and while their struggle for a normal life is palpable, both actors sell the devotion and love between them.
While Sam is the tortured soul, reeling from his stint in prison, Courtney is the superglue that holds their fragile family together, strong enough that she consistently refuses to back down from opposition. The first act sets this up nicely as Courtney and Sam fight the demon off by themselves, played simply as the determination of a couple who has already had to struggle with so much.
However, The Demon Inside then introduces the “Ghost Killers” a band of three ghost hunters who arrive on the scene to help the Parsons family after a desperate Sam reaches out to them. The trio and their crew are hilarious and the direct parody of real-life ghost hunting shows is entertaining, but then this idea is taken to the extreme with the claiming that they can kill entities.
When they first arrive, we are entertained by the visual satire and painful parodies as they make fun of shows like Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures. But, while their arrival is welcomed and well-written, it seems grossly out of place from the wife/husband team narrative. I understand that they serve to drive the action forwards, but at some points they were almost too goofy and clearly meant to be expendable. The two concepts tried to mesh, but when things start getting serious again, these plot points don’t blend well and take away from all the build-up in the first act.
The Ghost Killers are almost too hilarious, like they need their own movie or at least a less serious feature to star in. I would have enjoyed the Ghost Hunters if they offered more than some sight gags and some convenient deaths to keep the story moving. The third act also, unfortunately, quickly loses the comedy and replaces it with the seriousness of the first act. Shit has supposedly hit the fan, but it felt more like the film deflated, even at the end scene which was entirely confusing. The grave feeling was back, but then was juxtaposed with a drinking montage and a confrontation scene that was bloody ridiculous.
The Demon Inside is ultimately held back from greatness. This is unfortunate since it is shot well, it has outstanding sound design (especially in the creepier scenes), it shows the demon so few times that it remains scary, and the wife/husband dynamic is so believable because of the excellent acting. Even though the Ghost Killers aren’t as strong as Sam and Courtney as characters, they also bring enjoyable comedic moments, take themselves way too seriously, and provide some real emotional scenes in the film. However, the sheer amount of characters in one house in a movie with very few sets seemed congested and it lost the magic it would have gained by either choosing the family OR the ghost killers as central characters.
This is writer-director Joey Moran’s debut feature, the other major project on his resume being T.V. show Z Virus. This is a supremely impressive film that took me by surprise when I realized that it is Joey Moran’s first because it doesn’t include many first time mistakes that are typically seen from first time directors.
Overall, I do recommend The Demon Inside because it is strong in the first two acts and is entertaining as a whole, but be warned that it might leave you unsatisfied with the ending, which feels rushed, doing a real disservice to the film.
Check out The Demon Inside, available now on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, Vudu, Xbox Live, and Playstation Network.
WICKED RATING 6/10
Director(s): Joey Moran
Writer(s): Joey Moran
Stars: Madeline Thelton, Joseph Rene
Studio/ Production Co: Skeleton Kreek Films
Release date: May 16, 2017
Length: 95 min