J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

The Demonologist: His Name is Damien


Daimon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan is a major Marvel superhero, but they have yet to figure out how to use him in their film and TV business. Instead, we get Damien Seryph. He has a similar name and the same basic bloodline. He too is a scion of Lucifer, but unlike Hellstrom, he has not exactly turned against the big man downstairs. In this case, Lucifer is not nearly as bad as the four rogue horseman demons out unleash chaos everywhere in J.M. Stelly’s The Demonologist (trailer here), which releases today on VOD.

Seryph has suppressed most memories of his backstory, so he is unaware of the supernatural powers he inherited from his mortal and supernatural fathers. However, the New Orleans cop has a knack for solving occult-related cases, so he is often called in on sicko ritualistic crimes, like the murder he and his partner are working. A tarot card was left at the scene, so you know there are some bad vibes going on.

The stakes really start to rise when Seryph’s would-have-been future mother-in-law becomes one of the victims. However, the department wants him off the case, because that is obviously the professional course of action. His faithful partner is also very concerned over Seryph’s sleeping habits. Regardless, there is a demonic war breaking out—and Seryph is involved, whether he likes it or not.

Frankly, Demonologist’s big twist is so blatantly telegraphed, it would have been far more shocking and cleverer if Stelly never sprung it on us. This film also takes its sweet time to get going and is fully stocked with banal chit-chat. Plus, the title is rather misleading, implying the protagonist has some sort of scholarly and maybe even scientistic (not scientific) credentials, like Van Helsing or Dr. Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters. Instead, he has latent inherited demon-busting powers that obviously will not be tapped until late in the third act.

Brian Krause from the original Charmed is a solid genre actor. He was terrific in the shockingly good Plan 9 remake/reboot and helped elevate the workaday Be Afraid. Unfortunately, he appears bored by the lackluster material in Demonologist (nobody is blaming him). Even the villains are bland. Only Thomas Francis Murphy shows any willingness to chomp down on the scenery as the priest who advises Seryph on messed-up occult esoterica.

Even though Demonologist is set in and around New Orleans, it never includes any funky NOLA music in the soundtrack. Would it kill them to throw a little work to the local musicians? It would have helped distract from the many slow patches. Not recommended, The Demonologist releases today (1/1) via On Demand.

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