Directed by Marcin Wrona
A bridegroom is possessed by an unquiet spirit in the midst of his own wedding celebration, in this clever take on the Jewish legend of the dybbuk.
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★★★★½ review by Matt Singer on Letterboxd
The lead actor here, Itay Tyran, is worthy of year-end awards. (Don't be surprised if he turns up on my best actor ballot on various critics polls.) And there is only one shot in this movie I dislike, a cutesy homage to a classic horror movie that diminishes the gravity of what's transpired. It turns a ghastly tragedy into just another horror movie. Without that shot, Demon stand entirely on its own as a howl of pain into the unfeeling void.
★★★★½ review by Waldo on Letterboxd
Zaneta and Piotr don't know each other very well but they love each other and they're gonna get married. They already have a great old house that's a fixer upper, the wedding reception will take place there, everyone's invited to this party, only Piotr the night before discovers by accident a pile of human bones out in the yard and he'll start feeling like a total stranger at his own wedding. Soon the whole wedding reception will descend into chaos and then straight to hell. The director Wrona did a fantastic job crafting a haunting tale of possession that looks like something out of Dante's inferno. Too bad the director killed himself shortly after this movie. A little horror masterpiece.
★★★★½ review by Cody on Letterboxd
I've been waiting all year to watch Demon and I am so glad that I finally was able to watch it. Demon is an extremely unique horror film, taking on the dybbuk, a spirit that I have yet to see on film. It's always nice to see films that deal with beings that exist in cultures throughout the world, and it's even better to see them done extremely well. Demon really is a fantastic film filled with spectacular performances and stunning direction. I really wish that there were more films that dealt with various cultures as well as this film did, since there would be some amazing films out there (instead of films like The Other Side of the Door).
★★★★★ review by paul ... on Letterboxd
Restrained to a degree that the supernatural presence in the narrative doesn’t feel anything but as mundane as the wedding it arrives at - Demon is a fascinating character study; about anxiety, conflicts of faith, and the overwhelming sense of always achieving another life-long achievement to validate a reason for being. Thanks to director Marcin Wrona’s free-spitted direction, the wedding in Demon slowly turns into that of a boring freak show; people ignoring others, and then interested, and completely aloof when they insinuate they’re close. Leading actor Itay Tiran is given a character that could have easily skewed into cartoon, yet what we get on-screen is a cathartic trajectory into feelings of both satisfaction and madness. The pinnacle scene, used in the film’s press materials, is downright scary - not because of its foreign presence (brought forth by Jewish mythology), but because it becomes a literal release for much repressed concern.
★★★★ review by Kyle Jonathan on Letterboxd
2016. Directed by Marcin Wrona.
Everyone has experienced an abysmal wedding. Open bars often lead to the salting of old wounds, while decades of familial dysfunction rear their heads in defiance of matrimonial amnesty. Marcin Wrona's final film, Demon, takes this concept into overdrive, delivering an unrelenting allegory of loss and the bloody history of Poland that plays out during a vodka soaked wedding in which patriarchal denial, deep seeded cultural hatred, and supernatural heritage violently erode the festivities with pitch black humor and disturbing imagery.
Wrona took his own life shortly after the film debuted, and his untimely death enshrouds every aspect of the film. On the surface, Demon presents as a dark comedy that toys with horror motifs in a Bunuel like presentation of people trapped within a central location. The setup involves a controversial wedding held at a familial plot in Poland in which the groom is infected by a paranormal entity. The film's protagonist, an English pariah to the Polish family at the center of the story, slowly begins to succumb to possession by a Dybbuk, an ancient spirit of Jewish folklore. As the groom's behaviors continue to spiral out of control, the bride's family members react in a variety of ways, ranging from tragic exploration of the incident to drunken dismissal, representing the various reactions of both time and memory to the holocaust and the role of Poland in the proceedings.
Itay Tiran's performance as the doomed Piotr involves exhausting physical contortions and uncomfortable exchanges that go beyond traditional horror expectations. Demon's unique presentation, in which elements from beyond expose horrific historical realities, takes an inverted approach to the typical demonic possession fodder. There is virtually no bloodshed or brutality and yet the film's nihilism sustains itself for the film's 90 plus minute duration, leaving the viewer with a depressing aftertaste from the futility of redemption in the wake of millions of souls being extinguished. Non Polish speaking viewers may lose some of the context, but the sickly manner in which the participants each flirt with the notions of protecting their perfect wedding over confronting the evils of the past is both egregious and hysterical, deliciously imparting Demon's dark gift to the audience.
Pawel Flis's cinematography is covered in yellowing nicotine stains and opulent speakeasy lighting that is nestled within the farmhouse's rustic setting to create a a mood of uncertainty. The past and present intermix through fluid physicality and nonsensical dialogue that uses drunken verve to hide that which the viewer has already seen. While denial is the central artery that runs throughout, it is truth underneath the deception that is the film's hopeless center. Demon's corrupted wedding present is the inescapable knowledge that no one, be it inebriated guest or slowly traumatized viewer, gets out unscathed.
Available now for digital rental, Demon is a tough film with unsettling ideas that is completely devoid of hope. The antithesis of feel good entertainment, if you're interested in an unconventional horror film that explores the atrocities of the holocaust in a satirical and frightening manner, Demon will not disappoint.
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