Directed by Marcin Wrona
Screening at SERET London Film Festival 24th June 2016
Piotr and Zaneta are looking forward to their upcoming marriage and life in their new home – an inherited property that once belonged to Zaneta’s grandfather. On the eve of their wedding, Piotr discovers bones and a skull in the grounds of their new property. After telling his in-laws about the remains, Piotr tries his best to forget what he saw but becomes plagued by apparitions on his wedding day to the beautiful Zaneta. Could it be the spirit of the deceased he uncovered?
Polish/Israeli thriller DEMON puts a refreshing spin on the idea of possession with its unique setting of a Polish wedding. The discovery of the bones is just the start of it as we discover who they belonged to and what exactly it wants with Piotr on the most important day of his life and the consequences it will have on him, Zaneta and those around him.
The last time I subjected myself to an elongated scene of a wedding was The Deer Hunter and dear Lord I thought it was never going to end. DEMON‘s 90 minutes running time pretty much consists of a wedding but thankfully it’s not as dull as dish water as The Deer Hunter was! We have the pre-wedding build up of the best men searching for the groom, the wedding where the wife hesitates with her lines through nerves and then the wedding reception which is where the fun begins. We’ve all been to wedding do’s and we know that as more alcohol flows, the looser everyone becomes. Well, this is no ordinary wedding. This is a Polish wedding where vodka seems to be the magic word from the get-go and ingredient to make everyone’s lives that bit merrier for the night. With the community professor giving a speech and the local ‘tee-total’ doctor playing a sombre tune on his keyboard, it’s no wonder the guests turn to booze. They’ll certainly need it when the groom begins to act strangely after his haunting visions turn him into a nervous wreck. Embarrassed by his actions and wanting to avoid any questions, Piotr’s father-in-law orders his son to make sure they use up all their vodka stocks to get their guests absolutely wasted so as to save face at this wedding that’s eventually going to end in divorce.
The fact DEMON is as good as it is is not just down to the solid script but the acting chops of everyone who’s involved, particularly Itay Tiran as poor Piotr. His physical performance when the shit really hits the fan is marvellous to behold and pulls at the heartstrings as his beloved Zaneta is unable to do anything but watch the man she loves suffer this fate. The blunt reaction from those around Piotr, although often laced with humour, is such a powerful watch that we feel like the powerless Zaneta, unable to do anything except spectate and hope for a positive outcome whilst the family around her only make things worse.
We’ve seen possession films time and time again but DEMON offers such a compelling take on the dybbuk that just hasn’t been put to film before that horror fans must simply check it out. There’s no CGI or jump scares to speak of, thankfully, just pure performances to show how we as humans would react in such a situation, converting the simmering horror that bubbles beneath the surface into a drama to be proud of.