Like most weddings, the one in Demon comes close to spinning out of control: crazy moves on the dance floor, wild polka music, rain and wind beating at the windows. Unlike most weddings, this ceremony’s groom spends a lengthy amount of time fighting off ghostly visions of a pale, long-dead bride, who’s standing in the crowd like the worst wedding crasher ever.
Nailing a tricky sense of physical anarchy (as well as some far subtler domestic tensions), Marcin Wrona’s Polish import is an eerie, extraordinarily poised piece of horror. It plays with the nervousness that attends any impending union—including impressing a doubtful father of the bride—but it invests that undercurrent with the supernatural Jewish mythology of the dybbuk. (That’s the movie’s title in Israel and Germany.) So unlike anything made in Hollywood, Demon has zero digital effects and barely any loud noises, apart from occasional tinkles of shattered glass and shards of sanity slipping away.
It must be noted that Wrona, a director of uncommon promise, committed suicide at a festival where this film was playing. It’s impossible to know his private pain, but it seems like he got a lot of it up onscreen.
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