Proud homeowners and parents of two children, it is understandably frustrating for Ken and Tammy Sellers when their daughter Grace is possessed by a demon, worse when they come to realise that the manifestation is rooted in their desirable spacious house complete with turret, but accustomed to brokering a good deal they come up with a solution, offering Deomonous an alternative soul to take to hell.
Enter Will, toothpaste helpline customer service liaison and recently single, dumped by Amy who has perceptively assessed him as directionless and unable to commit to anything, be it a job, a hobby or a relationship. Needing a new place to live, he is delighted to be offered not only an apartment but a whole house, fully furnished, no strings attached… just a demon in the basement.
The intersection of horror and comedy one which dates to the earliest days of cinema, The Old Dark House and The Cat and the Canary being only two examples, it is a form which has evolved through The Fearless Vampire Killers, Gremlins and Deadstream to arrive at Sorry About the Demon, director Emily Hagins’ attempt to stitch together possession and exorcism with the undemanding structure of a mainstream romantic comedy.
A dichotomy which would challenge a more experienced director, Hagins’ greatest obstacle is her own script which gives Will (Jon Michael Simpson) the depth of a saucer; obviously privileged, presumably never having had to worry about money with his indifference to employment and casually mentioning how he blew off piano lessons as a child, he sees the offer of the house as an entitlement rather than something which would make him suspicious.
Bereft of personality or charm, are the audience supposed to feel sorry for Will when Amy (Paige Evans) is obviously better off without him? Similarly, the Seller family fail to convince, wishy-washy in their stance and inconsistent in their behaviour, with only spiritual cleanser Aimee (Olivia Ducayen) making any effort to put feeling into her lines and Will’s best friend Patrick (Jeff McQuitty) more interesting as a demonic host than a human.
A premise which plays out like a sketch performed on The Kids in the Hall thirty years ago, at an hour and three quarters Sorry About the Demon drags its heels when it should be roasting its victims, more concerned with baking cakes than momentum, tedium the killer ingredient which should never be found in anything hoping to position itself as a comedy.
Sorry About the Demon will be available on Shudder from Thursday 19th January