Skip to main content
film review

Demonic marks South African-Canadian director Neill Blomkamp’s return to feature filmmaking.Courtesy of VVS Films

Plan your screen time with the weekly What to Watch newsletter. Sign up today.

  • Demonic
  • Directed by Neill Blomkamp
  • Written by Neill Blomkamp
  • Starring Carly Pope, Nathalie Boltt, Chris William Martin
  • Classification R
  • Run time 104 minutes
  • Available Aug. 20 in theatres (Toronto – Scotiabank and Vancouver – Park) and for digital purchase, and Aug. 31 on VOD.

Supernatural horror flick Demonic marks South African-Canadian director Neill Blomkamp’s return to feature filmmaking following his 2015 dystopian blockbuster Chappie. Starring Popular’s Carly Pope, Demonic was filmed during the summer of 2020, during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a continuation of Blomkamp’s interest in mixing handheld realism with computer generated animation and effects, but Demonic is a much more understated entry in the writer-director’s filmography, which also includes Elysium and District 9.

Pope here stars as Carly, a woman estranged from her mother, Angela, who, years previous, was responsible for the deaths of 26 people. Carly, who has written her mother off as homicidal and unwell, has cut off all contact, until she learns that Angela is receiving medical treatment for locked-in syndrome – a rare neurological syndrome which renders the patient conscious but unable to move. In her attempts to forward her mother’s treatment, Carly comes to realize that her mother’s past actions were rooted in a much more immaterial form of evil, one that comes to unleash itself within Carly’s world.

Demonic often lacks the substance and energy needed to back up its narrative originality and hybrid genre form.Courtesy of VVS Films

Blomkamp here mixes high-concept science fiction with corporeal supernatural horror in a way that feels postmodern. Unfortunately, Demonic often lacks the substance and energy needed to back up its narrative originality and hybrid genre form. While it is refreshing to see the groundedness with which the director approaches his newest project, his larger-than-life ideas still seem to have trouble finding their exact footing.

In the interest of consistency across all critics’ reviews, The Globe has eliminated its star-rating system in film and theatre to align with coverage of music, books, visual arts and dance. Instead, works of excellence will be noted with a critic’s pick designation across all coverage. (Television reviews, typically based on an incomplete season, are exempt.)

Plan your screen time with the weekly What to Watch newsletter, with film, TV and streaming reviews and more. Sign up today.