The Demon's Rook (Movie Review)

The Demon's Rook (Movie Review)
7 10


PLOT: A powerful demon kidnaps a young boy one night in order to train him in the ways of black magic. Years later, after a hideous horde of evil demons are unleashed upon the world, the boy - now a man - must return to his hometown to stop the unholy invasion.

REVIEW:THE DEMON'S ROOK is not a very good movie, but it's actually not trying to be. That is to say, the film is a homage of sorts to a simpler time in horror movies, when low budgets didn't dissuade filmmakers from piling on gore and ghoulish prosthetic make-up. Like a midnight movie from the 80s, its focus is on showing as much blood as possible, while acting, plotting and coherence all deliberately take a backseat. The film doesn't amount to anything more than a goofy novelty, a six-pack and pizza flick to be watched and mocked amongst friends, but I guess there's something to be said about that.

In an extended prologue, we meet young Roscoe, an all-American boy who is prone to drawing disturbing visions of a demon face. Turns out he's actually under the sway of a mystical demon called Dimwos, who ultimately brings the boy into his underworld where he proceeds to teach him the ways of the dark arts. Dimwos isn't an evil creature, turns out; in fact, he's something of a gatekeeper, who is making sure the real nasties don't make their way to Earth. After twenty or so years, Roscoe becomes a man (played by director James Sizemore), and though he's learned much from his master, a moment of angry ignorance leads to the breaking of an ancient bauble that unleashes a small clan of very bad demons. Roscoe, boasting some magical powers, must return to the surface once again and stop their invasion before they take over the entire world.

The Demon's Rook review James Sizemore horror demon gore

That sounds like a bit of a convoluted plot, but after that set-up the movie settles into a very simple rhythm, where scenes of Roscoe - reunited with his childhood friend Eva (played by Sizemore's wife, Ashleigh Jo Sizemore) and trying to stop the destruction before it happens - are intercut with demonic carnage. These demons are a pretty impressive lot. They can raise an army of zombies to do their bidding, as well as control people's minds, and before long half the town has either been possessed or killed by their possessed friends. Many silly, overacted death scenes ensue, much fake blood is spewed, plenty of dry ice is dispensed into the atmosphere.

The look of the demons is certainly effective, and it's evident almost the entire budget went toward making their visages as grotesquely elaborate as possible. In fact, they reminded me of ghouls we might have seen in a "Tales from the Darkside" or "Monsters" episode back in the day; Sizemore and his team have done a wickedly good job at bringing these things to life. The zombies are a little less impressive, but methinks their shoddy realization is - like most of the movie itself - intentionally silly. The rest of the budget must have gone toward fake intestines and blood, as they both spill with regularity as the monsters run amok and slice open every dumb townie they can get their claws on. It is always refreshing to see a movie go the unsubtle route when it comes to sending the red stuff spurting.

The Demon's Rook review James Sizemore horror demon gore

Most of THE DEMON'S ROOK does indeed appear to have been shot in the backyards and barns of Sizemore's family and friends, with the do-it-yourself aesthetic extending to the lighting and production design. The only real attention to detail as far as set design goes is in sequences taking place in the demonic underworld, which have a 70s giallo flavor: sharp greens and reds illuminate smoky sets that were probably constructed with styrofoam.

Another aspect of the film that may make older horror fans twinge with delight is the music score, which sounds like it might have been composed by Goblin. Simple tapping on a synthesizer goes a long way toward endearing gorehounds to your movie, and Sizemore knows this.

It's a tough movie to recommend, but then again it's kind of tough not to recommend; I suppose you just have to know your audience. Those who prefer their horror serious and understated had better stay the hell away; so too should newbies to the genre who only enjoy reboots and PG-13 fare. But the nostalgic bunch of you out there, who remember staying up to watch cheap horror flicks on VHS or late-night cable, will probably find themselves entertained by THE DEMON'S ROOK's cheesy, ridiculous charm.

Extra Tidbit: THE DEMON'S ROOK hits VOD today.



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