Wednesday, May 25, 2016

SIFF 2016: 'Demon' (2015) Capsule Review

Demon may ultimately be best known as the last film director Marcin Wrona completed before his suicide last year, but the Polish-Israeli co-production showing at the Seattle International Film Festival is worth looking at on its own merits.

An updated tale of the dybbuk—a malicious possessive spirit associated with the soul of a dead person in Jewish mythology—Demon is a supernatural yarn with both a romantic streak and an unexpected sense of humor. When a young man (an all-in Itay Tiran) ventures to a small Polish village to marry his sweetheart, their festive wedding takes a nightmarish turn. This is also a play on the don’t-build-on-a-burial-ground motif so popular in horror.

While interesting, Demon has an identity crisis. The chilling, ominous mood balances well with the comic relief, at least for the first portion. After that, the two disparate elements clash in a manner difficult to reconcile; the film loses focus, trying to incorporate underdeveloped threads; and meanders to the shrug of an ending. [Grade: C]

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