The Demon

"Excellent"

The Demon Review


One of the great things about writing about movies is the ongoing realization that, no matter how deep you delve, there always remain revelations to be made. There are a number of heroic distributors who make their money proving it, among them Chicago's Home Vision Entertainment; a pair of recent DVD releases of films by Japanese director Yoshitaro Nomura are the latest example of fascinating offerings to be shepherded by HVE from relative obscurity to a conveniently nearby video store.

Like its companion release Zero Focus, what registers first about 1978's The Demon is its Hitchcockian air. Based on a story by Seicho Matsumoto, the best-selling Japanese mystery writer of his day, The Demon tracks the domestic horrors that befall three young children whose mother abandons them to their father's care. I use "abandon" because the father is not ideally positioned to care for them: he's married, and the mother of these children is not the wife. What's more, his wife has no inkling of the children's existence until the very day they're dumped at the small printing shop the couple runs. You might say that she does not react gracefully. Still, the demon of the title is not this resentful and cruel woman, nor a supernatural force of any kind - nothing happens in The Demon that science can't explain. Rather, this demon is the father himself. The tragedy and horror of the film reside not only in the acts this man commits, but in the way director Nomura ensures that the audience understands - maybe even, to a small extent, sympathizes with - the psychic terror this demon experiences at the thought of what he's done.

People, Nomura says, are capable of unimaginable things, and he presents his case compellingly; watching The Demon, the fact that the story is based on actual events comes to seem almost unnecessarily brutal, or, worse yet, beside the point. The dread builds incrementally: the youngest of the children, an infant boy, is sick to begin with, and there's cause to worry about the quality of his care. The father doesn't, or doesn't enough. In the interest of keeping peace in the house, he likewise hesitates to blame his wife for what appears to be active abuse. The situation is resolved - woefully - and when his wife next turns her attention to the four-year-old daughter, the audience waits in vain for help from the father that never comes.

And so it goes, until the children's sole caretaker is also the greatest risk to their well being. Suspense is built in to the situation, and Nomura adds flourishes of his own. But the true story arc of The Demon is that of the protagonist's loss of his soul. In the pivotal title role, actor Ken Ogata illuminates this process with painful precision; although much was made of his star turn the following year as the soulless, nonchalant murderer in Shohei Imamura's Vengeance Is Mine, he conveys greater depth here. As his contemptible wife, Shima Iwashita is a more than serviceable Lady Macbeth. And while the children are really very good, little Hiroki Iwase, as the nine-year-old (and thus oldest) son is heartbreakingly real. (The younger two may not have been old enough to be acting in a real sense.) By the film's conclusion, Iwase relays an incredible quandary - that of finding himself completely on his own, emotionally and in terms of his own safety - and he does so without overt display. Instead he shifts just perceptibly from moment to moment, depending, just as a child would.

The Home Vision release of The Demon includes a few extras, and the care afforded to the transfer really matters given Takashi Kawamata's splendid widescreen cinematography. More than anything, though, I'm grateful to HVE for having made The Demon available at all. It's a reminder that there's a whole world of film out there to discover, no matter how deeply invested you already are.

Aka Kichiku.



The Demon

Facts and Figures

Run time: 94 mins

In Theaters: Sunday 1st March 1981

Production compaines: Gold Key Entertainment, Hollard Productions, Percival Rubens Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

IMDB: 3.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: Jennifer Holmes as Mary, as Col. Bill Carson, Craig Gardner as Dean Turner, Zoli Marki as Jo, Peter J. Elliott as Mr. Parker, Moira Winslow as Joan Parker, Mark Tanous as Bobby, George Korelin as Dr. Stuart, Vera Blacker as Mrs. Stuart

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.