Director: Brando Lee
Cast: Harris Dickinson, Fiona Dourif, Malin Crépin, Jordan Belfi, Randy Wayne, William Miller, Phan Thao Nhu, Konglar Kanchanahoti
Runtime: 1 hr 33 mins
Rating: M18 (Violence and Horror)
Released By: mm2 Entertainment
Opening Day: 6 October 2022
Synopsis: A team of paranormal investigators head for the highlands of Fraser's Hill, Malaysia, to probe a series of alleged disturbances at a house with a dark past.
The concept of paranormal investigation or ghost hunting is once again explored by Malaysian writer-producer-director, Brando Lee, with an American cast list.
Billed as a blend of The Conjuring and an entire slew of movies dedicated to ghost hunts, Don’t Look At The Demon adheres to the tried and tested formula of paranormal teams trying to contact the other side with a pinch of scepticism, only to be caught in the crosshairs of the resident evil.
The film begins with a superimposed word-based definition of kuman thong against a dark screen before transitioning to the American suburbs where two young girls are huddled over a chalk-drawn summoning circle in a cosy bedroom. Ensuing a bloodcurdling scream, the scene cuts to a Buddhist temple where a tormented girl clad in sarong gets the traditional sak yant tattoo on the back by a local monk. The camera shadows the crew that scouts for supernatural encounters around globe and this time in Asia with Jules (Fiona Dourif) heading the entire investigation. And what’s more, the brooding mood painted by Lee positively contributes to the chilly setup as the crew of five crusades up the Fraser’s Hill to the looming slant of the house. As soon as the Skeleton Crew sets foot in the premise with an alleged dark past, the skeletons in the closet come tumbling out and the rest is seen through the demon's eye…
While Don’t Look At The Demon is neither a plot nor a character-centric film, it certainly isn’t frail when it comes to the narrative. The storyline grounds the characters in the ominous locality before catapulting the entire crew and distressed houseowners into the unknown that is governed by a supernatural force to be reckoned with.
Structurally-speaking, the subplot that isn’t puzzlingly entangled (thankfully) keeps the horror elements flowing without any hold-ups in the middle. Although the audience get to delve a bit deeper when it comes to each character since the plot demands them to ‘look the demon in the eye’, what Ben's (Harris Dickinson) mom did to him when he was a child remains nebulous. If only each of the Skeleton Crew member’s past was briefly unravelled, more depth and substance would have been promised to this first-ever Malaysian film that is slated to be screened in the United Sates.
Cast-wise, an intense performance is indisputably delivered. Members of the audience will certainly get to appreciate Dickinson in a completely different role than what was seen of Chase Andrews in Where the Crawdads Sing.
It isn’t just viewers with an affinity for Asian Horror that will have plenty to enjoy in this unfiltered, uncensored, uncompromising horror number that offers solid supernatural action. Any ardent horror fan will relish the peculiarly titled film that took an admirable care in explaining the realities of the unholy worship as it zeroes in on a proscribed religious ritual that is still in existence behind closed doors.
(An energetic charge is maintained throughout the entire span of 93 minutes with a screenplay that offers an even distribution of jump scares and a convincing cast ensemble paired with requisite bloodshed, demon possession, exorcism, sacrificial ritual and foetal cannibalism)
Review by Asha Gizelle Mariadas