Possession flicks are a dime a dozen, so thankfully co-writer/director Brando Lee takes a decidedly different approach than most with his new feature, Don’t Look at the Demon. A paranormal television crew is in for the shock of their lives when they stumble upon a house that may indeed actually be haunted. The film’s unnerving addition of a “true banned ritual” called “kuman thong,” or the practice of invoking the powers of unborn fetuses that died in the mother’s womb, adds a layer of ick right off the bat. Starring two of my favorite actors working today—Fiona Dourif and Harris Dickinson—Don’t Look at the Demon was a must-see based on this duo alone.
The Skeleton Crew goes into homes, and reveals hidden supernatural truths for their wide audience. Led by the apparent powers of the group’s spiritual medium, Jules (Dourif, Curse of Chucky, SyFy’s Chucky), the crew is now in Malaysia looking for their next target. As the film opens, The Skeleton Crew help expel cursed nails from a woman as she violently barfs them out. Jules decides upon the home of a young couple, Martha (Malin Crepin) and Ian (William Miller, CW’s The 100), to tackle next, driving four hours out of their way to get there. Matty (Jordan Belfi, Foster Boy, All American) is the show’s host, while Annie (Thao Nhu Phan) is their local Malaysian translator and guide, and hunky brothers Wolf (Randy Wayne, Hellraiser: Judgment, Terror Toons 2) and Ben (Dickinson, Beach Rats, Triangle of Sadness) are the cameramen. Several awkward introductions later, Jules is already uneasy.
Martha has been painting creepy pictures of a man she has never seen or met before. The couple take The Skeleton Crew on a tour of their home, including a basement that Wolf colorfully says “smells like roasted dick.” Something appears to be trying to make contact with Jules… could the place be connected to her dark past? As if in autopilot, Wolf and Ben install cameras everywhere despite still being owed money for their services. When an incident occurs wherein Ian wanders off sleepwalking and Martha is found floating and bashing her head against a wall over and over again, it becomes obvious that they are not dealing with one’s typical spook show. If this incident can help them to definitively prove the existence of the paranormal, The Skeleton Crew are about to become the hottest thing since Ghost Adventures…
Don’t Look at the Demon is indie horror fun, reveling in eerie moments and dripping with atmosphere. What it lacks in budget is made up in a commitment to haunted house horror hijinks. Floating chairs, shirtless possessions, demonic noises, crucifixes, attempted rape, and more await in Brando Lee’s extremely entertaining take on demonology. I would recommend this off the strengths of Dourif and Dickinson—what could have been paper-thin caricatures are crafted into terrific showcases for both actors. Overall, Don’t Look at the Demon may not be anything we haven’t seen before, but it is still worth watching for a sadistic ending and two excellent performances.
Don’t Look at the Demon unleashes a torrent of horrifying spirits when it scares its way to premium video on demand on Tuesday, November 22nd.