Demons Never Die

This is a very silly film. It can’t decide whether it wants to be a slasher movie, a whodunit or a deep and angst-riddled teen drama. The trouble is that all of those things are the opposite of all the others, and Demons Never Die ends up a confused mess of awful writing, though it is occasionally brightened by some stylistic flourishes. Also, it has Tulisa in it, but literally for two minutes, so she can fuck right off with her third highest-billed credit.

Anyway, we’re at an unnamed school in an unnamed part of an unnamed London, and Amber (Tulisa) has just topped herself. Cue Constable So Solid Crew (Walters) and Sergeant Rastamouse (Yates) turning up to give a talk to the school that boils down to: “Don’t kill yourselves just because she did.” So eight kids decide to kill themselves together (stick it to the man!). They all have their own problems: one’s got bulimia, one’s a druggie, one’s fat, one’s a schizophrenic goth, one’s that Irish guy from Misfits, you get the idea.

Anyway, before they can kill themselves, a masked man starts doing it for them. Except he might be a figment of the goth’s psychosis. Then Kenny decides to kill the others (Kenny, eh? What a lad.) and film it, but they take a lot of drugs and become friends so they don’t want to die anymore. Plus Irish misfit and goth start knocking boots after some cringe-inducing flirting. Anyway, it turns out that their teacher is actually part of a conspiracy, even though he’s definitely not the murderer, and the other kids decide they want to kill Kenny ’cause he’s a wanker but they get on the wrong side of Curtis who might also be the one slashing everyone up and… You know what? Forget it.

The core problem here is that a slasher movie thrives on pacing and regular deaths, whittling the victims slowly; while a whodunit needs everyone alive for the big reveal at the end; and a teen drama tends to be more languid with its tempo, focusing on all, like, emotions and stuff. As it is, Demons Never Die jumps around all over the place, not working as any of them. Also there are so many concurrent plot threads and characters (at least 14 that you really NEED to keep track of, not including a few side plots) that you just don’t care.

It’s a real shame, as well, since here are genuine moments of stylistic excellence: a group video chat, for instance, laid out in a multi-window format, with each kid having their own coloured background. It’s cheesy, but it really works and I was hoping it’d continue through the film, with windows going dark one by one, but no; just a one-time thing. There are also some surprisingly strong montages, which really turn a cavalcade of stereotypical ‘teen’ issues into some well-rounded characters. A dubstep-backed drug binge and seeing each prepare for the big party in their own way (flexing in front of mirrors, obsessively changing t-shirts, watching youtube clips of mass-murderers) have some really nice touches.

It’s notable that all the best moments are the ones where no-one is talking, because it’s the script that really lets this movie down so ludicrously. Lines like “This angel will protect you when you sleep and keep you safe when you’re awake”, the horribly contrived references to demons when (spoiler) there are no demons, not to mention a pointless flashback that seems to end with the currently-alive protagonist getting shot in the head as a child. What it really needed was a second flashback to explain the first one. And a third one to show why either of the other two flashbacks were needed at all!

Demons Never Die is very much a car crash. And like a car crash, there are certain undamaged bits that are well-engineered and still work nicely, but they don’t matter because your brains are splayed all over the steering wheel while your passenger suffocates into the airbag.

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