‘Sorry About the Demon’ Review: Emily Hagins [Shudder Saturday]

Just by the title, Sorry About the Demon, the lighter tone of Emily Hagins’ film is set. The prologue, in which a family hilariously discovers that their new house is haunted, confirms this. As they settle in for the night, they realise that something isn’t quite right with their daughter. The child has been possessed by Deomonous (voiced by Tony Vespe); desperate to save her, the child’s parents make the entity a tempting offer…This type of set-up could have been constructed to elicit maximum scares and malice, but Hagins opts to infuse it with humour. The bickering between the family members verges on silly, deflating any thoughts about spooky horror, whilst promising a fun time to come. Their pact involves offering to acquire for Deomonous, a more age-appropriate vessel. Enter Will (Jon Michael Simpson).

Will is exactly the sort of down-on-his-luck, slightly unstuck and directionless protagonist that comedy films thrive on. He earns a living as a toothpaste customer service rep, but has a fondness and talent for baking. Will lives with his girlfriend Amy (Paige Evans), but after she gets exasperated at his inability to commit to anything, including her, she breaks up with him. In need of a new place to live, Will inadvertently finds himself a tenant in Deomonous’ lair. It’s with Will that the humour offence kicks up a gear. Jon Michael Simpson is perfect in the role and manages to make Will just charming enough to be bearable. The character clearly has his faults, but Simpson makes them appear as endearing and the viewer is quickly on his side.

Bright and jovial music accompanies Will’s odd encounters so there’s an element of safety for even the most scaredy of cats out there. There’s a whimsy to these exchanges and Will’s initial obliviousness is a tried and tested comedy trope, but one that works favourably here. After he twigs what is happening, watching Will bumble his way through is like watching an excitable golden retriever attempt maths. He is completely out of his depth, but luckily for him he has people to turn to – best friends Patrick (Jeff McQuitty) and Aimee (Olivia Ducayen). As the film expands its number of characters, so too does the opportunity for laughs. There’s an ongoing gag about Amy’s that is simple but effective, and Patrick is great as the exasperated rational friend. McQuitty’s performance is Cameron Fry, but transposed to horror.  

As Sorry About the Demon moves forward, it gets progressively sillier, and by the time the vivid green demon blood spurts onto the screen, the viewer will have fallen in love with its eccentricities. Though Sorry About the Demon is its own, very specific, beast, it does share a cosmic kinship with both Extra Ordinary and A Ghost Waits. It’s neither as heartbreaking as the latter, nor as buoyant as the former, but tonally it aligns somewhere between the two. The three would make a great triple-bill, just be sure to end with Sorry About the Demon for maximum good vibes. 

At its core, a coming-of-age comedy about a man-child finally learning the importance of commitment, Sorry About the Demon thrusts the viewer into a weird and wacky world of possession, baking, and toothpaste. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Sorry About the Demon is available on Shudder now.

This review was first published on THN.