Demon Hunter (2004)

JUNE 21, 2010


I have a theory... horror movies that air on cable only during hours that other channels are airing infomercials just plain suck. Once a week I use the cable box’s search > movies > horror function and seek out things to watch for when I don’t have Netflix or Blockbuster movies, and I am always surprised how often horror movies air just on the channels I have. And a lot of them are good; this week alone offers Scream, Hatchet, The Strangers, Urban Legend, and House of Wax (those are the ones I recall off the top of my head). But those air when people are watching. At 2 am? It’s just stuff like Demon Hunter, which offers just enough to entice someone into watching it and nothing else, like the movie was designed specifically to disappoint people who are staying in a motel that offers free cable. “Hey all right, free HBO! Oh wait, they’re showing something called Demon Hunter.”

The movie is the type of thing you, I, and most unborn children have seen a dozen times before: the church has a bad-ass guy (played by Sean Patrick Flanery here, instead of James Woods or Hugh Jackman or whoever else has played the exact same character in one of those other movies) who does their dirty work, and his newest case seems to be a bit more complicated and dangerous than the usual exorcisms or whatever. At least the casting person felt my pain and got the always delightful Billy Drago to play the villain, and hot Baby Blues mom Colleen Porch to play a nun who turns out to be a demon.

Let’s talk a bit about Drago. This is his 2nd appearance on HMAD this month, and it’s far more enjoyable than his too-brief turn in Seven Mummies. Here he gets to have lots and lots of sex with very attractive women (thought likely going through the head of each actress: “Seriously, of all the actors from The Untouchables, this was the last one I wanted to be groped by.”), and later he gets torn to shreds by Porch after he discovers she’s a demon. As with all Drago performances, it seems that he has no idea what kind of movie he’s in and is just doing his own thing, but since the movie is very dull, its more of a blessing than a distraction. I wish he had more scenes with Flanery though; even though he turns out to not be the main villain, it would have been fun to have them face off in the finale (they do have a skirmish earlier to make up for it, but I was looking at it as a preview of a bigger fight at the end, sort of like when Stallone and Snipes first fight in Demolition Man right after they are unfrozen).

And it’s also short, so it’s got that going for it. This results in one of the most straightforward one of these movies I’ve ever seen, to the extent where I wondered if it was actually a pilot for a TV show that they padded out a bit and made into a feature. I mean really, we meet Flanery, he gets assigned the case (and Porch), they look around, find a body, go talk to some guys and get into a fight, and then head off to the final battle. That’s pretty much all that happens in the movie; it makes most slasher films seem densely plotted in comparison.

The weirdest thing about it is that it’s set almost entirely during the day. Even a scene where Flanery goes home to sleep is set in blinding daylight, as are all of the fight scenes. Granted, most of the movie is set in downtown LA and I can’t blame them for not wanting to be around when the sun goes down, but come on! This is a horror movie! Plus, the half-assed demon makeup just makes them look like vampires, so seeing them outside in broad daylight looks even doubly ridiculous.

There is one moment I kind of dug, which is when one of the characters turned into a demon. The CG effects aren’t that great (shocking, I know), but it’s cool to see how the human hand becomes a typical two fingered monster one. It seems like most movie demons have this sort of appendage, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one being formed before (basically the pinky and ring fingers, and middle and index ones, mold together and stretch out). I dunno, most of the movie was so dull this seemed like a “No, *I* am your father!” moment to me.

I also appreciated that they straight up ripped off the End of Days score early on after a priest delivers a bunch of exposition (read: biblical nonsense). Because I have to assume that the guys who made this movie knew I’d be watching it someday, and that I was the biggest End of Days fan in the world, so they’d throw that in to A. acknowledge the slight similarities and B. give me something to be pleased about, because if the world needs one thing, it’s more people referencing End of Days. You wouldn’t believe how many times someone has mentioned a deadline of some sort and I’ve said in a (bad) Arnold voice “Is that Eastern time?” and then had to explain the joke. It’s a goddamn shame.

In fact, you should watch it next time it airs at 1 in the morning on Showtime.

What say you?

P.S. Seriously, "DEMON HUNTER"? How fucking generic can you get? I've seen more effort in Syfy original titles. "Well they're spiders... and they're on the ice... so... Ice Spiders, I guess?"

HorrorBlips: vote it up!


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