Her debut movie, out on DVD today, is a micro-budget slasher from first-time director Arjun Rose. The film features a Hollyoaks escapee and the lead from cult UK series Misfits, while the mighty Idris Elba produces. Can we hope for life in this vehicle or is Demons Never Die dead on arrival? Hit the jump:
If there's one thing you can say about Demons Never Die, it's that it has a concept: a group of mismatched college kids meet up on a webcam forum and decide to make a suicide pact as a way to escape their various problems. Before they get the chance to top themselves, however, a masked slasher starts picking them off one by one.
This is immediately a handicap for the film as it's hard to work up any sympathy for the emo teens' plight as they all claim to want to die anyway. In fairness, the film is aware of this and utilises the slasher to make the kids realise that they do want to live, but it may well be too little, too late for any empathy from the audience.
This lack of connection isn't reduced by some heavy-handed direction. Between the earnestness of the kids and some low-budget-but-trying-too-hard setpieces, the film comes across like a school health education film on the dangers of suicide. The group's webcam conversation, for example, is illustrated by a fractured screen with neon-coloured panels containing talking-head performances that don't gel with one another.
Anyone not put off by this will definitely be by the contrived ending, which briefly delves into found footage, ripping off REC's 'let's use the nightvision on these cameras to see in the dark' concept, before concluding with a denouement that leaves you none the wiser as to what exactly was happening in the film. Again, to be fair, Rose only errs on the side of obtuse in an attempt to avoid the kind of exposition that can ruin a good mystery, but a little explanation would have been nice.
Overall, you can't hold too much against the film, as Rose is clearly trying and it is a noble effort, even if it's hard not to titter at the missteps. The cast has many bright spots; Tulisa herself is actually not half bad in her brief appearance. Meanwhile, Misfit's Robert Sheehan and relative unknown, Jennie Jacques act their socks off and do a lot to ground the film in a sweet and convincing romance that is far more effective than the slasher schtick. Jacques in particular is one to keep an eye on.
To be frank, if the film had avoided the more-fantastic horror elements and focused on the interactions of the characters, it might have succeeded as a reasonable, if a little over egged, teen drama with a strong romance at its core. We hope Rose grounds his next film in reality, but Demons Never Die has just enough good to make it worth a look.
Demons Never Die is out today on DVD