Demonic follows two storylines: one is the investigation and interrogations in the aftermath of a violent night, and the other is a glimpse into the paranormal experiences that supposedly occurred. As a police officer (Frank Grillo) and psychologist (Maria Bello) try to determine the truth, they slowly unravel the truth behind the house's dark past and the people, or otherworldly beings, responsible.
Despite a cast with a positive track record, Demonic never seems to produce the steam necessary to move on the rails to any significant location. The acting chops of our leads do certainly help lift an otherwise mundane plot, but it isn't enough to take the film to another level. Because this film isn't a piece that can be carried by its characters, but by its story, and the story here is severely lacking in the mystery and engagement it seeks to establish.
The bouncing between two timelines is different enough to retain interest that would otherwise disappear, but it turns out to be somewhat of a gimmick to cheaply keep your attention on a familiar situation that lacks tension. What happens inside the home is your usual "seance gone wrong", but we aren't sure who or what is responsible for the deaths. So the post-murder investigation attempts to resolve that problem along with the audience.
We are led down visual rabbit holes that have no legitimate purpose other than to give the film a 90-minute runtime. We aren't given many scares despite our visits inside the home, and Bello and Grillo aren't given much material to work with. Their interrogation revolves around a survivor of the night and lead suspect, who of course claims to be a lucky victim. And we spend the rest of the film determining if he's lying or not. But unlike Basic, the versions of events aren't intriguing and the characters have no layers.
From a horror perspective alone this film drags, giving nothing new to a plot that is over-saturated in the market. Demon possession is something that I believe has boundless potential, but instead we see a lot of recycling that butchers any originality in the way the story is told.
I can't recall a single moment that felt worth the viewing. Even Bello and Grillo can't save the film. Even a modest $3 million budget doesn't feel exploited on screen. Grave Encounters, which had similar scares, accomplished a lot more on a $100, 000 budget, and I'd much sooner watch that again than watch Grillo try to save this film.
The twist wasn't much of one, though I was more disappointed with the execution of it rather than the way the plot delivered it. But cinematography and a poor script can butcher potential, and this film looks like it left a lot of potential in the ether.