Demon Hunter (DVD)
Starring Sean Patrick Flanery, Billy Drago, Nancy Yoon, Colleen Porch, and Terrence Beasor
Directed by Scott Ziehl
Released by Anchor Bay Entertainment
The ever-present war between Heaven and Hell is still in full swing, but there's a new guy on the block ready to kick some demonic ass! No, it's not John Constantine or even Father Merrin. His name is Jake Greyman, and he has an approach to exorcism that would make Mike Tyson cringe in pain!
Our story begins mid-exorcism, where we see the silhouette of a priest through a second floor window of a darkened house. It's obvious what he's up to. A poor girl is the victim of a demon seed, and faster than you can say "The power of Christ compels you" the church is there trying to help her. Pan down to the first floor, and we see a mother praying for her child while a completely disinterested Jake Greyman quietly sharpens a crucifix. You can tell by the screams of agony that things aren't going well for our holy warrior. Jake stands and heads upstairs. He doesn't try to help the priest, nor does he have any interest in finishing the Ritual of Exorcism. Instead he opts to kick, and I mean kick, the living shit out of the girl who's possessed. Imagine Father Merrin beating the Hell out of little Regan! Wow. Needless to say, Demon Hunter now had my full attention.
The story centers around Jake Greyman (Sean Patrick Flanery), a warrior for the church who essentially cleans up demonic messes for them. The poor chick he beat to a bloody pulp was the third victim of possession in just a few short weeks. Since all the victims were female, everyone decides that something even more unusual than having demons take up residence in your flesh shack is afoot. Through further investigation it is discovered that the demon of lust, Asmodeus, is on the loose and looking to impregnate helpless victims with his spawn. Why? Because he's the demon of lust for chrissakes! He's horny! Seriously, his plan is to father a race of half-breed beings that will help him exterminate our kind. Once all the pieces of the puzzle have been discovered, the game begins, and the movie takes off.
Demon Hunter is a strange film. It sounds as if it would be fairly F/X heavy, but truth be told, it's not. Most of the effects are of the practical variety. You know; horns here, fangs and claws there, etc. Sometimes it comes off as sort of laughable. For instance, the Succubus in the film is little more than a really hot chick in skimpy clothing with demon horns stuck on her head. She resembles a living, breathing Koop drawing. (Those of you who get that reference know exactly what I am talking about.) Even the violence is kept to an absolute minimum. It almost seems that any real splatter has been replaced by nudity and sex. Hey, whatever floats your boat. Needless to say, silliness abounds, but there is one entity who keeps things grounded before they get too out of hand -- Sean Patrick Flanery. His down-to-earth, no nonsense performance is dead on and Steve McQueen steely. You learn to turn a blind eye to some of the film's shortcomings as a result.
The one thing that really bothers me most about this film is the music. Demon Hunter seems almost void of a film score. Instead we get some rock tracks ranging from decent to "Holy shit! Where's the volume control?" The inclusion of these songs gives the movie an all too music video type of feel. At times I felt as if I were watching a commercial for the film's soundtrack instead of the actual movie. Please, next time keep it simple, or give us instrumental versions of these tracks.
On the DVD extras side of things, once again Anchor Bay does not disappoint. Included are an energetic commentary with writer Mitch Gould and star Nancy Yoon, a trailer gallery, some raw fight scene rehearsal footage, and a nearly forty-five-minute featurette on the making of the film entitled "Demons Among Us". The latter is of particular interest for fans as it is a thorough and concise look at making a low budget horror film. Of course having legendary television producer Stephen J. Cannell onboard didn't hurt things either.
Demon Hunter is a quick little film that hits its mark more than it misses. It's a fun ride while it lasts, but it's also easily forgettable. Still, it's better than watching any of The Exorcist sequels (except for III), and at times it's actually a bit more fun than the overblown Keanu Reeves vehicle Constantine. We're left with an open ending, and hopefully if the crew gets together for another foray into Greyman's world, they'll leave the overbearing rock bands behind. My ears still hurt. *Reaches for Tylenol and seeks shelter in the comforting sounds of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon*
"Demons Among Us" featurette
Fight sequence rehearsal footage
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