HOUSE OF DEMONS, the latest film from Patrick Meaney (Neil Gaiman: Dream Dangerously), is quite the viewing experience. Combining a psychedelic backdrop centered around a Manson-style cult, HOUSE OF DEMONS brings a unique perspective to the cult subgenre of horror. The film stars Dove Meir (TV’s “NCIS: Los Angeles), Chloe Dykstra (TV’s “Heroes of Cosplay”), Morgan Peter Brown (Ouija), Tiffany Smith (TV’s “Attack of the Show”), Whitney Moore (Birdemic 1 & 2), Jeff Torres (TV’s “Pitch”), Kaytlin Borgen (Text) and Amber Benson (TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
HOUSE OF DEMONS centers around a group of friends who reunite for a weekend in a rented house for their friends destination wedding. Ten years prior, a tragedy unfolded that impacted the close-knit friends and now that a decade has passed, old wounds and guilt have resurfaced. Unbeknownst to them, the house they have rented used to belong to a scientist named Frazer, who ran a Manson Family inspired cult in the 60’s. Through the use of certain techniques he is able to manipulate time and bring forth the fears of others. During the friends get together, Frazer ends up blurring the lines between present day and the 60s, colliding past and present, into an evening where all must face their deepest fears or end up destroyed by the darkness waiting within.
This movie was weird. There is no other way to say it. A part of me almost smoked before watching this movie and though I didn’t, I’m really curious as to how that would have impacted my overall viewing experience. It’s pretty apparent from the beginning of the film that HOUSE OF DEMONS is a low-budget indie horror film, but instead of being downright awful, there was actually a lot of promise to this film. Most notably, the acting talents from all of our leads. I’m not saying that anyone is going to win an Oscar, far from it, but I found myself incredibly impressed with the acting, especially that of Dove Meir. He was able to play the perfect cult leader with enough charm to sway anyone to join his free-love albeit murderous clan.
As for the presentation of the film, that’s where things get a bit bizarre. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the use of bright colors during the more drug induced moments, as well as the muted colors during the present and the more sepia tone during the past, but some of the directions towards camera views and lingering shots left a lot to be desired. There were also moments where our characters would move in slow motion which I’m sure was done intentionally but for what reason I’m not sure. Though I love the execution of the atmosphere made by the color choices, I did at times think it was a bit too busy and in your face.
In regards to the story, I definitely think there was potential, it just needed more tightening up and a more clearer vision. I was on board with the cult aspect, I was on board with the reunion of long forgotten friends, but I felt the story started to become overworked when a demon was presented. Then add in the drug use, the loss of a family member, off-shoots to the characters fears and you are left with a story that becomes a lot to digest in its 90 minute runtime. I think having a clearer understanding of what the film wanted to be would have helped in the overall execution of the story.
Overall, though HOUSE OF DEMONS wasn’t show-stoppingly great, I did enjoy watching it. Sure, it was weird and it could have benefited from scaling back on some of the story, but in the end, as long as you have a good time watching it, that’s all that matters. The biggest praise I can give to this film is the actors involved, as there is some quality talent in this film and I look forward to seeing where these actors go from here.
HOUSE OF DEMONS is now available to own on Digital and DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.