The Demonsamongus (2006)
By: Julian on February 11, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Accent Underground (Australia). All Region, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. 82 minutes
The Movie
Director: Stuart Simpson
Starring: Nathaniel Kiwi, Laura Hesse, Peter Roberts, Hollie Kennedy
Screenplay: Stuart Simpson
Country: Australia
Generally speaking, Australians know a thing or two about committing low-budget horror and exploitation to celluloid. Be it 1972's Night of Fear, Brian Trenchard-Smith's exploit venture Turkey Shoot or more recently, Undead and Wolf Creek, the Southern Cross flies proudly above the horror camp, alongside the stars-and-stripes, and the green, white and red.

Stuart Simpson is one of the latest Aussie's to stake his claim in the genre with The Demonsamongus, a no-budget indie film set in rural Victoria. Nathaniel Kiwi plays Joe Melton, a city bloke who has moved out to the sticks for Christmas to complete work on his thesis, addressing consumerism and advertising. However Melton's new abode, the sleepy hamlet of Miranda Falls, is home to a formidable presence. When this presence manifests into human form and brutally slaughters an entire family, Melton finds himself on the run, accused of the heinous murders. His only companion, and the only other person to believe his innocence, is shop assistant Kylie Fitzgerald (Laura Hesse), who witnessed the killings first hand.

We cut to Hollywood, where advertising exec Ed Winters (Peter Roberts) is wreaking his own brand of narcissistic havoc. When he is alerted to the news that his ex-wife and children have been killed by the demon, he returns to Australia, ready, quite literally, to raise hell.

Demonsamongus is far from a great film, though it does promise two things – Australian horror is far from dead, and a talent is on the rise through director Stuart Simpson. The film really is Simpson's baby, and the director also wrote, edited, produced and photographed the picture. The special effects are good for a film of this budget, and the man responsible for them was Nick Kocsis (who did a much better job on Simpson's short Sickie, which is discussed in the Special Features part of this review). However, Simpson is a long way off some critics' hysterical comparisons of early Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson. While Demonsamongus is an good-enough indie flick, it lacks the seminal charm of other maverick horror debuts such as The Evil Dead and Bad Taste, and fails to blend the mix of comedy and horror that Simpson was trying to achieve with any level of success – the horror may be taut and suspenseful, but the comedy from Roberts is poorly acted and limp.

As much as I'd love to show my support for a local figure whom I truly believe is a promising horror talent, I just couldn't warm to Demonsamongus. The work is far from entirely original, and Simpson obviously draws considerable inspiration from the Italian gore epics of the seventies and eighties, and the Japanese demon thrillers of the nineties and noughties. The acting by the entire ensemble is poor, and distractingly so – though it would be pretentious of me to penalise a Z-grade film on those grounds. However, a point that Simpson must be commended upon is his cinematography and editing work. He does a fantastic job and, while the bulk of this is digitally altered, Simpson has been compared to Lynch and Argento, with varying accuracy. There's no doubt that Demonsamongus is a very stylish picture, and this adds – rather than detracts – from the scares that Simpson conjures up.

I'd be eager to see what Simpson could do if he was given a bit more money, time and expertise. Because while Demonsamongus displays moments of talent on Simpson's part, the whole thing is too uneven to be anything other than a curiosity.
The picture is presented in the 1:85:1 aspect ratio with 16:9 enhancement. Accent has done the best they could given the material, and it still looks pretty damn good. There's some grain here and there, but otherwise this is a decent transfer.

As I have already said, Simpson's cinematography is probably the most commendable thing about Demonsamongus, and some of the editing techniques look awesome. I'll direct a big, approving nod towards the black, white and red colour aesthetic in one of the scenes.
No complaints here. Accent has given us two English Dolby soundtracks – 5.1 and 2.0. The 5.1 sounds great, with all the booms and bangs fittingly jolting. If you can only listen to the 2.0, you're a dolt – stop watching DVDs and get a decent sound system immediately.
Extra Features
The extras are fantastic and show the kind of respect Accent puts into releases such as these – and rightfully so. The bulk of the features is a thirty-four minute behind-the-scenes featurette titled Diary of the Demon. It made for tedious viewing given I didn't have the appropriate predilection for the film itself, but the fans will certainly appreciate it. Three deleted scenes, a photo gallery, and a trailer for Demonsamongus and other Accent releases are also included.

Best of all, though, is one of Simpson's earlier shorts titled Sickie. This seven-minute cross between Cabin Fever and The X-Files introduces a nameless woman, who wakes up feeling a tad under the weather. She phones in to work sick, but her arsehole of a boss (undoubtedly this will ring bells for many viewers) tells her to be in the office quick smart. As she goes through her morning routine of making breakfast, having a shower et al, she begins to literally fall apart. This short was absolutely brilliant. The grue here showcases Kocsis's effects far better than the feature itself, and it has a definite Cronenbergian feel about it. Thumbs way up!

Demonsamongus was the inaugural release for Accent's 'Underground' series of films that, according to the press release on their site, serves to 'release truly independent films by talented filmmakers whose ingenuity and creativity far exceeds the budgets at their disposal'.  The label is already twelve films-strong.
The Verdict
Kudos to you, Mr Simpson, for getting Demonsamongus made. And definite kudos must be extended to Accent for having the heart and balls to make films such as these widely available to the Region 4 punter. I wasn't too impressed with Demonsamongus, and the film itself is deserving of a two, but the package that Accent Underground has put together sets a standard that should certainly be looked up to by other film distributors. And Sickie was a surprise gore-fest par excellence. Three little Australia's.
Movie Score
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