Synopsis: One year after Demons tore its way through the world’s gore-loving hearts, Italian horror maestros Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava returned to again unleash a flood of demonic carnage upon the screen. This time, the residents of a luxury high-rise apartment building are transformed into monsters for a gut-spattered siege complete with acid blood, cannibal kids, zombie dogs, and a birthday party gone horrifically wrong. Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni (Argento’s Opera), Bobby Rhodes (Demons) and Asia Argento (in her first film role) star in this insane shocker from The Golden Age Of ’80s Italian Splatter, now newly restored from original vault elements!
Dèmoni 2 6.0
eyelights: its manic “anything goes” quality
eyesores: its nonsensical script.
I approached ‘Dèmoni 2’ with caution. After the first one, which is of dubious quality, and knowing that sequels rarely fare better than their forebears, I figured that there was a good chance that this one was going to be a chore.
But it was, unsurprisingly, an unspectacular affair.
It’s not for a lack of effort in some areas, but the fact that they used a similar idea as the original film, which itself seemed inspired by ‘Night of the Living Dead‘, isn’t exactly a fresh way to go.
The key distinguishing mark of ‘Dèmoni 2’ is the setting, which is an apartment complex instead of a cinema. Otherwise, it’s still about a bunch of people who are inexplicably trapped in a building while being chased by zombies/demons/undead for reasons that escape everyone including -in all likelihood- the screenwriters. They even have a black guy who takes charge, exactly like in ‘Dèmoni’… and ‘Night of the Living Dead’.
The advantage of setting the piece in a highrise is that it opened things up – it gave more space to work with, which in turns provided many more characters to follow. As far as I can tell, it’s the only thing that a picture of this type has going for it. It’s strange to say that characterization is core to a film about demonic possessions, but that’s perfectly true here – and it’s likely what made ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ classics.
Which ‘Dèmoni 2’ isn’t. But perhaps I’m stating the obvious.
I realized about halfway through this picture that it only really makes sense in spurts of 3-4 minutes. Actually, scratch that: it doesn’t ever make sense, but at least a disjointed piece of 3-4 minutes doesn’t seem as nonsensical as it is in the bigger picture – in which case trying to piece everything together is near-impossible. It’s such a sloppy script that it’s as though the writing was done using the telephone game or by writing hundreds of ideas on scraps of paper, tossing them in a hat, picking out 20-30 of them and then trying to piece them together.
Okay… for fun, let’s try to figure out just how this demonic possession things works, shall we?
First, the apartment building’s residents are watching what appears to be a TV movie re-enactment of the demonic rampage in ‘Dèmoni’. Or maybe it’s meant to be a documentary. Who knows – that’s not clear. Either way, this TV show doesn’t take place in the cinema from the first picture, so it’s presumably set in the aftermath of those possessions.
Then the people in this TV production resurrect an undead by inadvertently dripping blood into the mouth of one of the “demons”, and this creature runs amok. How the girl or any of her friends failed to notice the gash on her arm and was oblivious to so much blood loss escapes me.
Then the demon somehow comes through the television and attacks Sally, one of our main characters, who then becomes a “demon”. We don’t know exactly how or why a fictional “demon” on a TV programme could cross over to the real world, but it doesn’t matter because it forever disappears after this anyway.
Then Sally attacks all of her birthday party guests. And rightly so, because they’re a bunch of douche-bags who deserve to die – if not because of their douche-baggery, then at least because their non-acting challenges the viewing audience’s patience and sanity. Obviously, they can’t escape because all the doors and windows are magically locked/jammed/indestructible.
Then all of these hosers become “demons” too and Sally bleeds an enormous amount of blood from her mouth (some people call it bile, but it’s frothy and red). This blood/bile burns through the floor and proceeds to infect the rest of the building by dripping through its many levels – by which point loads of people come in contact with it.
Then they attack, thereby infecting or killing others.
I had never imagined demonic possession this way before. It’s original, I suppose. But stupid. Very very stupid.
‘Dèmoni 2’ is a frank mess full of contrivances and gaping logic holes. But, for whatever reason, it’s also a gleeful romp – it’s filled with such abundant energy that one can almost forget, if not forgive, the mind-numbing acting, dialogue, script, storytelling, …etc.
It does have one terrific strength, however, and it’s its soundtrack by a bevy of Beggars Banquet artists. I never would have expected this, but many cult icons (including many of my favourites) are in ‘Dèmoni 2’: Art Of Noise, Dead Can Dance, Fields of the Nephilim, Gene Loves Jezebel, Love And Rockets, Peter Murphy, The Cult and The Smiths.
Fields of the Nephilim?!!! Seriously? I never would have expected to find them on any soundtrack of any picture, let alone ‘Dèmoni 2’. What a delicious surprise this soundtrack turned out to be. I suspect that the movie’s producers simply had an agreement with Beggars Banquet for a soundtrack and got all these amazing people in one lump sum. Brilliant. Spectacular, even!
But, beyond that, there is nothing outstanding about ‘Dèmoni 2’ – or, outstandingly good, at least. It’s a piece that knows no rules and also doesn’t seem to give a crap that it’s utterly ignorant. It’s a movie that screams in your face for you to love it as it goes on a schizophrenic rampage. So if you can handle its multi-level chaos, then perhaps it’s worth seeing.
It’s certainly entertaining. And unpredictable. And it’s actually more fun than its predecessor, even as it’s more moronic. And, truth be told, there’s a place for dumb fun once in a while. Even when it’s so dense that you have to check in your brain at the coat check on the way in. ‘Dèmoni 2’ is that type of entertainment: possessed with verve, with spirit, but devoid of brains and soul.
Date of viewing: October 11, 2012