The superbly intense actor and filmmaker Miles Doleac has followed up his satirical yet totally effed-up midnight flick The Dinner Party with another movie that's more than worthy of the 80s/90s weekend video rental. Demigod exists on that all too fun plane of monster makeup vibrations, of lived in witchery worlds, and of survival of the fittest tales that make tape heads and VHS freaks weak in the knees. No, it's not a gorefest or a campy romp of cheese and silliness, but in riding that line between genuine drama and playful spooks, Demigod achieves a fair broadness that can be applied to kids sneaking away with video boxes, and to their babysitters.
Beyond the crutch of being "effed-up" - not that being so can't be grand - Demigod feels like a major accomplishment. Based on his two previous directorial outings, including Hallowed Ground (a film that I panned perhaps a bit harshly), Doleac has always expressed interest in metaphor through the occult. In Demigod, he's reached an apex of sorts in his filmmaking talent, covering male domination at the expense of female strength in a world lacking justice. A half man half beast woodsy demon, built up as this powerhouse of horned evil, is serviced by a coven of witches that live deep in the forests of Germany. It depends on them for sustenance, with little to nothing given in return. This is a relationship involving chauvinism and slavery, under the veil of protecting a cherished landscape and a tortured planet. The setting of a lonely piece of Europe, removed from civilization and monuments to the past, holds special significance as this untouched and untainted place, where this monster is king hunter, and all who enter are his prey or the tellers of his very force.
Something about it all spells out "insecurity" to me. A false idol, perhaps.
Doleac gets at this message by way of being a warning and a reminder of what has been and what could be the oldest story to ever be told: a big lie used to exploit others. This is no atheist scrape, mind you. In fact, Demigod is all faith, just in and of different things. More or less, the film is an accomplishment of capturing truth through genre, minus any and all pretentiousness possible. Give credit where it's due to a tight vision and tighter strokes on a steady canvas.
There's a weight to the atmosphere throughout the movie, one that is possessed by a visual prowess for what needs to be seen and what should remain hidden. Not in and out of frame, but accentuating positives and eliminating negatives. For any odd audio mixing, there are a plethora of incredibly lensed shots of suspense, fulfilling a main element that all horror films must maintain. There's clarity in the darkly lit sequences and the scenes that glow from moonlight and fire. The opening domestic bits have more subdued photography and composition, floating around with the curiousness and the exploration that our protagonists walk through. This of course gives way easily when things move faster and scarier, always emphasizing what must be focused on and what must not be acknowledged at any given time. Sure, sometimes movements slow down here and there - one long static track almost wastes patience - but never is Demigod without action of some sort.
The beast that dominates the legend of this environment, in every second of film it's in, is shown from either far away, from behind, or slightly obscured. For sure, this is to hide any flaws in the costume, but it ends up working in the movie's favor. This monster represents many unsavory parts of man, so leaving its full visage up to imagination makes it all the more key. Resourceful, charming, and effective. Not to mention its voice and eyes - the stuff of purebred creature feature.
Movies made in the woods don't usually spark much confidence, as this is often a desperate act of no-budget creation that leads to boredom. However, Demigod never lets up its attitude, its meaning, or its entertainment. Of the independent spirit and at the mercy of equally independent conditions in a time of pandemic, Doleac and crew pull off a hail mary in resourcefulness and in obstacle jumping, in any and every form. Those who worshipped the VCR in their younger years appreciated such efforts and such passion. We still do. 4/5