Directed by Miles Doleac
Screenplay by Miles Doleac & Michael Donovan Horn
Starring Rachel Nichols, Yohance Myles, Miles Doleac
“These woods can be unkind”
Director Miles Doleac opens his interesting new Horror film “Demigod” with an effective German folklore-based sequence. A pregnant woman is being chased through the woods. She is caught by a small cult of women and a man in a beast mask. They are preparing her for not someone but, something. Whatever the demon they worship may be, it is coming.
Doleac wastes no time grabbing the audience’s attention right from the fade in, as his film begins with screams, fire, blood, and the promise of something evil to come.
It is a smart way to begin a horror film and it assures the audience that this piece will not be a slow burn.
American born Robin (Rachel Nichols) has inherited the house of her recently deceased grandfather. A surprise to her, as Robin hasn’t seen him since she was six years old. She travels to his house deep in the German forest with her boyfriend Leo (Yohance Myles).
Her grandfather told her stories as a child of how their family were descendants of a great hunting tribe who fought against the evils and monsters that were supposed to exist deep in the forest. Robin’s last memory of him was when he shot a stag in of her and taught her how to butcher it. Then he ate one of the eyes “for good luck”, forcing the other eye into her mouth. Thus began little Robin’s fascination with drawing monsters.
The film is playful in keeping the audience guessing about Robin’s past. Was the little girl drawing monsters from her mind or did she experience something actual and sinister that her memory has blocked?
Jason London (a strange but successful choice) plays the grandfather in Robin’s dreams and memories. As she sleeps, she experiences what happened to her as a child and sees dark visions. But, once nestles inside the house for the night, so does her boyfriend.
Earlier in the day while walking in the forest, the couple encountered a hunter (director Doleac) and his daughter. It is an uneasy meeting but, although weird, the Hunter seems pleasant and warns them to not go into the woods after dark. That night, Robin and Leo are attacked by the very cult from the beginning.
The couple, the hunter, his daughter, and a few others are taken deep into the forest where they will be hunted and sacrificed to appease the title creature. As they are all let loose to be hunted, the horrific fight for survival begins.
This is an effective horror story that uses the creepiness of the forest to allow viewers to share in the character’s terror.
Julie Toche’s production design intensifies the eeriness of the atmosphere. A devilish danger hangs over every frame and scenes are decorated with bones and carcasses hanging from the trees, as nowhere and no one in the forest is safe.
Clifton Hyde’s excellent sound design and score complement Toche’s work and haunt the film with their sinister choruses and unnerving aural queues.
Miles Doleac and Michael Donavan Horn’s screenplay uses its simple tale of a cult summoning their master to good effect. The backstory is as creepy as any ghost tale and once the victims are let loose in the woods, things get extremely tense. Director Doleac gets mileage out of his wooded locations and Nathan Tape’s camera captures some darkly gorgeous imagery.
The creature’s design is simple but works well when he is silent. He stands mostly in darkness and has a horned temple and an almost shadowed face that hints at the hell-beast he is.
It is when the beast (named Cerrunonus, The Master of the Woods) makes his full appearance where the film loses its stride. The monster is certainly a menacing creature but ends up being nothing more than a growling figure that has a couple of altercations and too many lengthy monologues while the actor inside the makeup tries too hard to sell the performance. After the well-crafted build up, the film fails to fully sell the flesh and blood incarnation of its monster, unfortunately hindering the final act. That said, all that came before works so well, it sustains the film.
With a solid cast, a chilling atmosphere, a good story, and a director that appreciates technique over jump scares, Miles Doleac’s “Demigod” is an entertaining tale of terror and a gem of the 2021 Halloween season.
NR, 95 Minutes, Gravitas Ventures, Artist Vodka Films, Historia Films