Neill Blomkamp’s highly ambitious new film Demonic explores new avenues in the genres of sci-fi and horror by combining supernatural forces with virtual reality technology – but in the process, it leaves viewers with a bunch of unanswered questions. As it is the fourth film by Blomkamp, the expectations for Demonic were high, especially after the disappointing results of his previous films Chappie and Elysium. However, as clever as the concept of the new horror might be, Demonic was met with largely negative reviews.
The story of Demonic revolves around Carly (Carly Pope) and her struggle with a demon that has possessed her mother Angela (Nathalie Boltt) and put her in a coma. In order to speak with her mother, Carly enters Angela’s mind with the help of Michael (Michael J. Rogers) and Daniel (Terry Chen), who work for a biotech company called Therapol. Carly’s old flame Martin (Chris William Martin) later reveals to Carly that Therapol is a Vatican front organization of black ops priests.
During the ending of Demonic, Carly uses a holy lance given to her by Daniel to stab Michael and exorcise the demon. And when the demon enters her instead, Carly stabs herself with the lance, which not only exorcises the demon but also engulfs it in flames. Before that, the demon manages to kill Sam, Michael, Daniel, and many of the other black ops priests from Therapol. And while the demon leaves Angela, she dies during Carly’s last bid to enter the simulation and wake her up from the coma. The epilogue shows Carly visiting Angela’s grave and reconciling with Martin — but are things really as peaceful as they seem in the end?
Demonic’s creepy bird demon is without a doubt the highlight of the film. As Carly found out the hard way, it would seem that the only way to really defeat the demon is for the one being possessed to deal the fatal blow with the holy lance. For the moment, the epilogue showing Angela’s grave and Carly and Martin living normal lives suggests that the demon is truly defeated. At the same time, it all seems too good to be true, especially after Demonic shows just how much the ruthless demon is obsessed with Angela and Carly. There are two things that could have happened when the demon went up in flames: it either died or was banished back to Hell. And if the latter is true, its story might continue in Demonic 2.
During the second act, Martin explains that Therapol is just one of the many front organizations used by the Vatican to leverage advanced technologies for finding and taking out demons. While this is one of the most promising ideas in Demonic, Blomkamp fails to take full advantage and only shows a small portion of what is implied to be a worldwide operation led by black ops priests. But if Martin’s research is right, then the bird demon that sought to possess Carly is just one of the many denizens of Hell freely walking the earth, and that could also be worth exploring in any planned sequels.
Although Demonic has been called Blomkamp’s worst movie, it nonetheless introduced promising new ideas to the horror genre, chief among them being the device that Therapol used to link the minds of Carly and Angela within a virtual reality simulation. In the basement of the sanatorium where the priests meant to destroy the demon, Angela died on one of these devices, and the epilogue doesn’t show what happens to either the technology nor the sanatorium afterward.
Despite being trained specifically to hunt the worst that Hell has to offer, the priests from Therapol seemed to be ill-equipped for the job, as Demonic mostly only shows the aftermath of how most of them were brutally and easily murdered by the demon. Considering how Demonic also failed to leverage this potentially action-packed element in the film, it would seem that Ridley Scott was right not to trust Blomkamp with directing the new Alien movie. Moreover, while Demonic shows Therapol as a bustling organization, only a handful of dead priests were found at the sanatorium. Considering their black ops training, it’s possible that some of them survived.
The epilogue shows Carly visiting her mother Angela’s grave – but not Sam’s. While possessing Michael, the demon burns Sam to death outside the sanatorium, prior to the final confrontation with Carly. Considering how Sam was Carly’s best friend, it’s strange how Demonic doesn’t show her laid to rest. Sam’s body – along with the black ops priests – could still be at the sanatorium. At the same time, because Therapol’s virtual reality simulation devices were also left at the sanatorium, it’s possible that the Vatican sent a team to retrieve the tech and clean up after the demon.
In an interview with Demonic director Neill Blomkamp, it’s clear that that movie’s goal is to produce an effective sci-fi horror film amid production and budget constraints. However, during the first act, Demonic also sets up a potentially romantic ending for Carly and Martin. They originally broke up when Carly and Sam thought Martin was insane after he insisted that Angela was possessed by a demon — and as Carly comes face to face with the effects of demonic possession, she leans on Martin’s research and experience for support. The end shows the two happily reconciling, but not what happens after. They could’ve gotten back together, as the events in the film prove that Martin was right. At the same time, dealing with the demon could’ve also left both of them disinterested in romance. Anything’s possible. After all, Blomkamp is known for using groundbreaking CGI – not for telling romantic stories. And while the story of Carly and Martin made Demonic somewhat more relatable for viewers, much like its many promising but ill-fated elements, this hint of romance asks more questions than it answers.