Review: DEMON, A Ghost Story of a Different Colour
Anything you try to bury will come back to haunt you. And as many times as you bury it, it will come back, and no doubt hurt those you least want to see hurt. The past can never be escaped, and its denial will only force you to deal with it over and over.
Peter (Itay Tiran) has arrived from the UK to marry his Polish fiance Zaneta (Agnieska Zulewska). Zaneta's father has given them the old family homestead as a wedding gift. When Peter is clearing some trees, he discovers buried bones. Instead of asking anyone about it, he covers them up again. At the wedding the following day, Peter becomes progressively stranger; at first nervous, then ill, then slowly he seems to be taken over by a dybbuk, a ghost from Jewish lore, and as the family try to figure out what to do, it seems some know more about the bones than they're willing to divulge.
Certainly, Wrona takes no time in establishing that this area of Poland already has issues with haunting, or at least with strange and deadly happenings. Peter arrives on the scene to the recovery of a body, and visits his future father-in-law at his quarry, arguably indicative of a mass grave. The homestead and its surroundings are in a not particularly attractive wooded area, and the house and other buildings far less than glamorous.
As the guests get progressively drunker, Peter is progressively overtaken by the dybbuk. Tiran is mesmerizing as he shows Peter at first distracted, then happy, then nervous, then fighting the losing battle against the creature inside him. His body moves like a strange liquid, adapting to the ghost's feminine presence with pain and precision, and Tiran never lets his character fall into cliché in its portrayal of the ghost in a new shell.
All of this is offset by a discord between the music score and the film's visual identity. It might seem at first that the score overwhelms, being far heavier than the images would require. But that score is the voice of the ghost, or perhaps it is many ghosts, struggling to be heard as they are ignored by the wedding guests.
The ambiguous ending leaves more questions than it answers, as if the entire wedding was a rain-soaked nightmare that none will remember, and might leave some of the audience frustrated. But it is precisely this ambiguity that is at the heart of the film: if no one is willing to confront the difficult and possibly murderous past, it will rise to the surface of the earth with regularity, waiting for its turn to be heard.
- Marcin Wrona
- Pawel Maslona
- Marcin Wrona
- Itay Tiran
- Agnieszka Zulewska
- Andrzej Grabowski
- Tomasz Schuchardt