A quartet of (mostly) drunk, bitchy, and until recently…estranged (thanks to a shared tragic car accident that left their chum a human vegetable), friends reunite in order to attend an old friend’s wedding. Because they are cheap as balls, they decide to stay in a remote country home together (instead of booking some rooms at the Ramada like normal fucking people would do). This being a fright flick this seems on the surface like a really aces idea, but of course a Charlie Manson like cult leader and his bonkers brethren used to live there…oh, and he carried out experiments to expand human consciousness. As they often do, the experiments blast from the past (and soon the cult do as well), and our assy antagonists are confronted with the darkest secrets of their soul (which leads to some great batshit visuals later in the film). Can they survive the machinations of the cult…and themselves?
House of Demons gets major points for originality. Instead of being your usual cabin based slasher or demonic evil (though there are shades of that here and there) picture,this crazy mix of a millennial version of The Big Chill paired with Helter Skelter by way of The Twilight Zone is a great concept, and it’s executed here pretty damn well. The story is definitely outlandish, but it’s told with conviction and that makes it engaging (plus you creeps know I dig the ridiculous like no bodies business). Adding to that, the cast assembled here is strong…they do a great job of portraying these troubled folks (maybe too good a job as you’ll see below), and the cinematography is pretty tight as well.
On the negative side, the “heroes” of this flick are supposed to be tragically flawed, but for a large chunk of the film most of them are simply pretty unlikable which makes it hard at times to give a damn about their plight. The most interesting character by far is the cult leader Frazer played with equal parts charm and psychosis by Dove Meir…and that’s telling…you’re supposed to hate this guy, not want to spend more time with him than the protagonists! Also, these dopey images of their brain dead friend keep appearing when he is mentioned and it’s equal parts ridiculous (not in the good way) and hilarious.
If you are looking for a novel take on the ‘cabin in the woods’ trope, House of Demons will definitely deliver, and though marred by characters that are hard to get behind, the story, acting, and visuals balance things out.