Written by: Daniel Hadley
Director: Zoe Kavanagh
Cast: Niamh Hogan, Alan Talbot, Sarah Tapes Jenkinson, Michael Parle
Blade’s a cool character right? How about the Punisher? What about that scene in The Terminator where the T-800 wiped out an entire police station? What if you replaced the terminator with a demon and Sarah Connor with – now bare with me here – what if you replaced her with a gothic passive aggressive standoffish smartass demon hunter with a tragic backstory? Does any of that sound cool?
Well this tonally inconsistent poorly written movie is here to hold your hand through its entire plot just to make sure you don’t have to worry about anything too difficult like nuance or subtlety, that way you can just appreciate how gosh darn cool everything is, that’s how that works… right? Why explain anything with visual cues or have any of the characters discover anything on their own when everything can just be exposited by secondary characters that enter the plot before leaving just as quickly as they arrived, because if it wasn’t done that way then we’d never get to appreciate just… how… fucking… cool… everything is.
The plot goes like this; Taryn a rebellious teenager loses her little sister to a demon, then after discovering the body herself she makes a deal with strange man named Falstaff in order to get revenge. Falstaff, as it turns out is a bad guy and wants use Taryn to merge their souls in order to gain more power, luckily she is rescued by a resistance group fighting against the demons in order to save mankind. Taryn now partially merged with Falstaff possesses great power which she wields against the demons that created her, though with every use of her powers she loses a small piece of herself to Falstaff, who is gradually gaining control of her soul. So now along with her demon hunting chums, she kills the forces of evil in order to protect mankind, all while the constant threat of losing herself to the dark forces that seek to control her is ever present.
That doesn’t sound too bad as a plot summary, a little cliché maybe, but it’s a fine foundation to build a movie from. Unfortunately most of this plot is dished out with tonally jarring flashbacks that take up nearly half of the movies runtime or with excessively expository and wholly unnecessary dialogue. There are literally entire scenes in this movie that exist just for characters to spew out huge chunks of the plot and to crowbar in the main villain’s backstory. To just succinctly sum up this whole paragraph I need but five words, this movie has is written terribly.
Nowhere is this terrible writing more prevalent than when Demon Hunter attempts to be cool, and believe me it tries really hard, but guess what isn’t cool, trying to be cool. Sorry Taryn but your unwillingness to respond to any interaction with nothing but sarcasm, a cheesy one liner or resting bitch face just makes you unlikeable, and the catchphrase “I am the nightmare you deserve,” is painfully cheesy and very derivative of the line “he is the hero we deserve,” from that superman movie everyone loves (I know its Batman I’m just being a dick).
There is a very fine line between cool and cheesy and that is a line this movie and its characters fail to tight rope walk their way across. In fact, the characters of Demon Hunter are so desperate to sound cool that their bloody fingers are painfully clinging to that line as they breathlessly scream one liners into the disinterested ears of the audience, just praying that some collection of cool sounding words will garner some attention, well, at least in my case, they induced little more than a groan or at best a sigh.
As most of the movies issues stem from its script, I can’t fault the actors for the bad dialogue. The acting is pretty bad, but given the movies budget it would be easy to overlook the wooden and or hammy performances if Demon Hunter didn’t take itself so seriously, in fact the performances would actually be kind of charming.
But this is an action/horror movie after all, so how is the action? It’s poorly choreographed, cut way too quickly and mostly shot in extreme close up; seeing a hulking unkillable demon with wrist blades wipe out an entire police station to get to our heroine sounds pretty cool – even if that scene seems to have been lifted directly from The Terminator – and cool it very well could have been, if it were shot and edited well.
On a more positive note, as Demon Hunter was clearly made on a low budget, I have to give props to the fact that it doesn’t look cheap, though I wasn’t a fan of the demon design they looked pretty decent, the filmmakers clearly had access to high quality equipment, some talented makeup artists and a descent VFX team.
While Demon Hunter does have a few merits, as an overall package I can’t recommend it. If it had been a little more self-aware it could have been a fun little B movie with the same kind of charm that comes with something like Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place (if you haven’t seen that show then find it and watch it, right now, seriously, do it), but as it stands I’d say just give this one a miss.