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Film Review: 'E-Demon' invokes found footage-style Satanic panic

Ever since 'The Blair Witch Project' formally introduced the found footage sub-genre of horror film in 1999, filmmakers have for better or worse revisited it -- often with mixed results ('Cloverfield,' 'V/H/S,' 'Paranormal Activity' and too many other films to name).

The Dark Cuts film 'E-Demon' effectively uses the novel idea of an online conversation with multiple screens as a sort of variation on split screen film narratives. The plot, while it contains interesting elements, does not always hold up.

The film centers on four friends that graduated from college together and now chat online as is their custom. This review will avoid hard spoilers, but one of their favorite traditions propels the narrative in a clever manner.

The friends are aspiring writer Kendra (Julia Kelly), family man Dwayne (John Anthony Wylliams), snarky rich guy A.J.(Christopher Daftsios) and Mar (Ryan Redebaugh) -- an unemployed psychologist who lives with his parents in Salem, MA. Mar, despite warnings from his relatives, opens up a reputedly cursed trunk with a history going back to 17th century Salem --supernatural mayhem predictably ensues.

The film uses the found footage narrative style well and like many films in the genre it tries to make a statement on the harmful, partitioning nature of voyeurism. Writer/director Jeremy Wechter's script uses the idea that modern technology can supplement magic by making the creation of and access to a person's image even more immediate. But the references to Salem and the film's titular demon (who is interestingly conceived) seem made up on the spot at times.

There are other things wrong with the film that are typical of the genre. The characters swear and act like hysterical buffoons to an almost absurd degree in an attempt to make them more realistic (less so here than in other films of this type). Viewers will also find themselves wondering why characters continue to film events even though it would be dangerous or impractical (this film, to be fair, at least attempts to provide a rationale).

The story is generally good despite the flaws, but the narrative execution and the performances are what drive the film. 'E-Demon' should evoke a few long-term memories while other found footage films are forgotten.

(This film will be released in theaters and On Demand on September 14).

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