“Demons never Die” is an abysmal entry into the teen slasher genre and possibly the worst slice of indie Brit-Horror you’ll ever have the displeasure of viewing. Such is the magnitude of its crapulence recent tosh such as “Doghouse” and 2004’s much maligned “Creep” seem like veritable masterpieces of the macabre in comparison.
A group of disaffected inner-city London teenagers decide to put an end to their miserable, angst-ridden lives by forming a suicide pact. When a masked killer begins to cut a merry swathe through their number loner kid Archie (Robert Sheehan) begins to have second thoughts concerning the whole sordid enterprise and tries to extricate himself and his girlfriend Jasmine (Jennie Jacques) in one piece.
Writer/Director Arjun Rose’s debut could at best be called a sorry mess, at worst an all consuming vortex of failure. Performances are uniformly atrocious throughout as our young cast prattles off sloppy dialogue with all the conviction of a ward full of comatose patients, the script a succession of trite banalities punctuated by lines of guffaw inducing awfulness. Consequentially one never believes the kids are at the end of their rope, genuinely contemplating ending it all. Our underdeveloped cardboard caricatures fail to elicit viewer empathy, no convincing anguish driving their dark desire, instead coming across as dullards mired in a self-pitying malaise. They’re largely unlikeable stock stereotypes, disaffected bourgeois youth emblematic of the debauched “Skins” generation. The whole suicide angle seems a tacked on contrivance, a cynical narrative gimmick solely employed to justify the existence of another horrendously formulaic stalk n’stab flick.
Overall the picture is rife with inconsistency. See Jasmine spurning some post-coital affection from Archie like a depressive, delivering a spiel on the futility of life, only to fend off the killer with the ferocity of a wildcat a few scenes later. Not the actions of someone resigned to and pining for death. Murder set-pieces are entirely bereft of invention or visual pizzazz, featuring woefully unconvincing SFX. Describing them as anaemic would be too kind. “Demons Never Die” exhibits a dearth of imagination at every turn, from ham-fisted attempts at introducing red herrings regarding the murderer’s identity to the regurgitation of current horror trends ill-befitting the proceedings. Did we need a tedious POV night-vision segment to further emasculate an already feeble finale? No, but the shaky-cam theatrics of “Found footage” horror is in vogue right now so it’s thrown in despite being deadeningly ineffective.
An introductory prologue featuring the much vaunted big-screen debut of N-Dubz songstress Tulisa Constostavlos establishes the listless, uninspired tone prevailing throughout, shamefacedly aping the “kill your biggest star in the first five minutes” conceit of Craven’s Scream without having a modicum of its impact. Despite this homage/blatant rip-off it seems Rose missed the whole ironic post-modern reinvention of the genre, “Demons Never Die” being decidedly po-faced, nary a tongue to found in cheek, yet it’s no traditionalist back to basics slasher either. The knife-wielding maniac practically becomes a sub-plot subordinate to leaden melodrama. Jeremy Kyle meets “I Know What You Did Last Summer”.
Essentially a piece of exploitative tat desperately striving to come across all worthy, the film cack-handedly tackles sensitive issues in between lascivious shots of teen model’s twitching, bloodstained pelvises. In the beginning our protagonists scarcely acknowledge each other’s presence at College, communicating exclusively in cyberspace via video chat to discuss their suicide pact; only with the emergence of the madman on the scene do they begin to bond in person. “Demons” scratches upon the roots of 21st century teen estrangement, the anti-social insularity of a Facebook generation hardwired to their mobiles and IPods, youngsters for whom digital existence is more tangible than face to face social interaction. Unfortunately it never really digs deep enough, missing an opportunity to say something remotely interesting.
Now it’s time to be kind. The hyper-stylised graphic novel effect employed to represent the kids chatting online is quite fetching, so too the time bending steadicam introduction to our characters - Donnie Darko theft though it may be. “Demons” also plays host to quite possibly the unlikeliest detective duo to grace the screen in recent memory. Ashley Walters and Reggie Yates mincing about like a pair of male models on the pull, contaminating crime scenes, accepting flirtatious offers from 17 year-olds and delivering sighful laments as to the state of the nation’s youth. Their unintentionally hilarious, pratfall presence provides the barest sliver of redemption for this prolapsed cow anus of a flick.
Devoid of artistry “Demons never Die” is cynical, tawdry twaddle of the highest order. Only concerned with the financial bottom its little more than a glorified launchpad for its “hip” urban soundtrack.