After moving to a new home a teenager is possessed by an evil spirit. Her mother calls upon the help of a local doctor and a priest to help rid her daughter of the entity.
If the synopsis of a young girl getting possessed by a demonic entity feels like nothing new, then you ain’t heard nothing yet. A Demon Within is a shameless rip-off of William Friedkin’s The Exorcist and is so similar to the events of the 1973 classic that it’s embarrassing. In this film, our troubled exorcist is replaced by a troubled doctor but for good measure, we have a priest involved in this one, too. Science and religion must come together to help rid this mother and daughter of their demons.
There is little to no enjoyment to be had with A Demon Within. It’s a tiresome and tedious affair that begins poorly, continues to be poor throughout its middle and then comes to an eye-rolling and sudden end that screams of desperation. The film has refused to inject any amount of creativity into its formulaic exploration of possession, but then has the cheek to throw in a last-minute “twist” to persuade us that it’s not a rip-off of The Exorcist, promise! Well, A Demon Within can shove its promise and its twist with the rest of its useless, pointless and insulting moments, right into the endless void filled with other lazy horror films. Because that’s all this is: lazy.
The laziness begins right from the onset when the glorious words “This is inspired by true events” pops up on screen and when the equally glorious words “My god, what have we done?” are uttered by a priest during a failed possession from 1914. The film seeps with an unforgivable level of melodrama that is utterly unbearable. From the poignant music that accompanies the scenes when Dr Miller is having a drink to the moments where Father Donald is trying to teach him about the importance of keeping his belief in god, the entire film is an overload of soulless melodramatics that will fail to generate any emotional response from the most sensitive of audiences. From the clunky dialogue to the overall journey you can see the film taking, the entirety of A Demon Within is like revisiting a bad dream. We’ve seen this film before and we’ve seen it done this badly before. If you’re not pulling out your hair by the end, then you haven’t made it to the end yet. Prepare for gloriously bad acting, an even worse script and storyline that is inexplicably dreadful. Filled with cliches and painful predictabilities, A Demon Within is a chore.
The introduction to our emotionally-troubled doctor is as subtle as a car crash. In short, his daughter died and now he’s a well-functioning alcoholic who manages to drink two bottles of whiskey a night. But it’s not too bad, because he’s a jogger and he’s a doctor, so he knows what he’s doing. Played by Clint Glenn Hummel, Dr Miller is one of the most unlikeable characters in the world. Devoid of any personality and portrayed with as much vigour as a limp towel, his character arc is as obvious as they come. First he had faith, now he doesn’t and you can bet your bottom dollar he’ll have it by the end. There is as an equal amount of surprise in A Demon Within as there is in finding out the train fares have gone up, again. The entire film is a paint-by-numbers for possession beginners; if you’ve never seen a possession film then this one will show you around nicely, but if like most horror fans you’ve seen a few, this is one painful and non-relenting headache of familiarity.
If I can prevent just one person from watching A Demon Within then I will be happy. Do not waste your time on this poor imitation of The Exorcist, because there is nothing to enjoy here. It takes a lot for me to be angry at a film and I like to think I try to see the good in all films. However, this is next level terrible and I’ll be shocked if I see a film any worse this year.
Words: Jessy Williams (@JessyCritical)