It’s been almost a decade since a bizarre, yet incredibly tragic incident took place in the city of Gdynia during a film festival. While director Marcin Wrona was promoting his last film, Demon, he decided to end his own life by hanging on September 19, 2015, leaving everyone in shock. That fateful day cemented a tragic legacy around his very last work.
Apart from his short directing career, little is actually known about Wrona’s personal life. The Polish filmmaker was born in the historic city of Tarnów, Poland and started his cinematic travel around the dawn of the new millennium, directing his short debut Magnet Man in 2001. His first feature, released under the English title My Flesh My Blood, in 2009. Despite it catching the attention of various festivals, his 2010 thriller, The Christening, is considered his magnum opus. “While Wrona was celebrating the success of Demon at the Gdynia Film Festival, very few people knew that he was simultaneously battling some of his own demons, which eventually led to his death. Here’s a short dive into the haunting movie with which he concluded his short career.
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In 2015 the notoriously eerie and slow-burning Polish horror gem came to light, premiering the same year at TIFF. The story follows young Piotr and his soon-to-be wife, Zaneta, during the preparation of their wedding ceremony in Zaneta’s hometown. Piotr experiences a personal journey filled with doubt and denial, too afraid to commit to a family that he has only been connected to through his close friendship with Zaneta’s brother. As he bids his old friends a bitter farewell, he drinks one last glass of vodka to his ‘single life’ and looks at his beloved fiancée, whom he had only met online up to this point. He finds himself lost in grief, now completely numb and disconnected from his new reality.
But just a day before the wedding, Piotr makes a shocking discovery: a corpse in the backyard of the family’s estate. Hesitant to talk about what he had seen the night before, he carries on with the ceremony and reception. But the next day, his inner demons start taking over. Meanwhile, the ghost of an unknown woman in white haunts him and seizes control of his body, leaving him demonized for the rest of the party. What’s impressive is his ability to fade into the background among a bunch of drunk guests who are determined to continue drinking. They persist until they eventually crumble away, so it would be fair to say that everyone looks possessed at this point, even though Piotr is suffering in plain sight.
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Marcin Wrona’s Demon unleashes some of his creators darkest thoughts and eagerness to explore the uncanny in contemporary cinema. This film digs into the secrets of the past and their power to manipulate the present. While the plot may have some minor bumps, Demon appears remarkably expressive and spooky at its core, avoiding the promotion of cheap horror and conventional twists. Symbolic and depressing in an adolescent, naive, yet cool way, it raises questions and concerns about this mysterious artist who left us too soon in such an unexpected way, just as he began to enjoy the movie’s success. Whatever the case might be, this young filmmaker truly had a successful career ahead of him.