Synopsis: A young man struggling with a broken heart learns that his new place is full of restless spirits.
Stars: Jon Michael Simpson, Jeff McQuitty, Olivia Ducayen, Paige Evans, Dave Peniuk, Sarah Cleveland, Presley Allard, Jude Zappala
Director: Emily Hagins
Running Length: 105 minutes
TMMM Score: (6/10)
Review: If you’re one of those audience members that tend to bail on movies if they seem a bit iffy at the outset, I’m going to urge you to approach Sorry About the Demon with a little bit of mercy and extra patience. Admittedly, this one has some rough patches throughout, never more so than during its first 20 minutes. Unfortunately, that’s also the most crucial time for a movie to shore up its viewers and keep them watching to the end. I honestly can’t say I would have kept going with the film had I not been reviewing it. I was, and I did, so I’m passing along the good news that this often silly haunted house flick has its heart in the right place, even if it lacks the budget and production values to keep its head on straight.
In those first 20 minutes, we meet the aimless Will (Jon Michael Simpson), a customer service rep for a toothpaste company. He’s broken up with his girlfriend Amy (Paige Evans) and moved into an enormous red brick home the current owners were eager to offload. That’s because the joint is haunted, presided over by two spirits and one nasty demon that’s blackmailed the previous owners into providing a human sacrifice in exchange for their young daughter’s soul. The joke that bubbles up quickly is that the demon takes one look at Will and decides they don’t want him, so it’s up to Will to keep his friends and ex away, lest they be taken over by evil.
A simple premise from writer/director Emily Hagins didn’t need to stretch to 105 minutes, which prevents Sorry About the Demon from feeling well-rounded. It is possible for good movies to be too long! Far too many tonal shifts come across as different short scripts mashed together to make one feature-length film. One moment we’re in a break-up comedy between the hapless Will and stoic Amy, and the next, we’re in an overly serious exorcism thriller presided over by Will’s friend Patrick (Jeff McQuitty) and Will’s blind date (Olivia Ducayen) who coincidently is also named Aimee. It’s not that the actors don’t pull these genres off (the four leads are charming across the board, especially Simpson, who gets better as the hauntings increase), but the script doesn’t always make the connections from one scene to the next.
More than anything, Sorry About the Demon felt like it would have fit right into the stable of features released to VHS by Full Moon Entertainment in the early 1990s. Those who frequented their local video store during that era will surely remember these direct-to-video genre films that were made on a shoestring budget but had a goofy allure to them, making them irresistible. I honestly miss that part of the video rental blitz, finding the horror/sci-fi gems. You’re reminded of those halcyon days biking to the mom-and-pop movie shop when you add in more than a handful of witty one-liners demonstrating Hagins way with a clever (and not overly winky) turn of phrase. Because of that cozy good feeling, I make no apologies in recommending Sorry About the Demon for folks willing to play along.