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Review: J.M. Stelly’s The Demonologist

I almost passed on The Demonologist because movies about cults aren’t up my alley. I’ve just never enjoyed them. I decided to stick around for a viewing only because the new film from Uncork’d Entertainment stars Brian Krause. The actor most known for Sleepwalkers also starred as Leo Wyatt in “Charmed,” which is one of the supernatural shows that I grew up on. After the WB hit series, Krause went from one of the hottest men on television to one of the most employable men in horror. Seriously, he’s done 21 horror or scifi movies in the last ten years. So, I went into my viewing of The Demonologist with appreciation for Brian’s body of work, while also remaining cautiously optimistic about this film’s content. The third feature film from J.M. Stelly (Within Madness), The Demonologist follows a detective (Kraus) as he investigates a series of brutal murders. Eventually, he discovers they’re more than just random killings – they’re ritualistic deaths orchestrated by a cult hoping to raise the four King Demons of Hell so they can destroy Earth. While balancing his personal life and attempts to thwart the apocalypse, the detective is drawn into the battle between good and evil more than he ever imagined…and his destiny could be our fate. The Demonolgist raises the dead on digital platforms on January 1, 2019 via Uncork’d Entertainment.

A collaboration between TipTop Productions, CS West Productions and Thriller Films, The Demonologist is written, directed and edited by J.M. Stelly. It’s produced by Ryan Westheimer, Justin Jones, Zeus Zamani and co-producer Adam Horner. Honestly, I expected it to fall somewhere in the realm of The Last Exorcist, but it ended up being something more like The House of the Devil and Lord of Illusions. It’s not safe for kids. It’s not in your face with cases of possessions and exorcisms. And it’s just as much a cop drama as it is a horror thriller. It was an interesting blend of subgenres that takes aim at a very specific demographic. I don’t think movie fans looking for Paranormal Activity or The Devil Inside will like The Demonologist; the story is too complex and not in your face enough. This movie will be best appreciated by 80’s and 90’s movie buffs who can appreciate a building story that teeters on disaster. The Demonologist is subdued in its approach, but it’s still creepy, uncomfortable and demented. It’s also subtly scary in that the plot could actually happen in real life, minus the CGI fire-arms. (Yeah, you’ll have to watch to figure that out.)

Me? I appreciated The Demonologist more as a production than anything else. The camera work is wonderful; props to cinematographer Elliot Brasseaux. The audio is perfect. The digital effects needed some work, but the practical effects were awesome. I loved the different locations they maximized their time at, including the abandoned house with the statue outside. The script was well-thought-out; for example, having the detective go to a fortune teller/voodoo priestess who also warned of the apocalypse was all inclusive. No matter what religion you follow, no one wants to die at the hands of ancient demons. The cops element was a nostalgic throwback on top of that. But, mostly, my favorite departments was set design and prop mastery. Almost every scene was styled to perfection and so many different props – books, costumes, etc – made The Demonologist look like the production team went above and beyond to make this thing look great. And they succeeded! I can’t give everyone in the set design and prop departments enough credit for their contributions to this movie. When you throw in some expert performances from the cast, this was a well-rounded movie that could have gone to theaters with a slightly bigger budget. Brian Krause, Dane Rhodes (“True Detective”), Manon Pages (Purgatory Road), Kate Tumanova (American Exorcism), Jared Bankens (Venom), Thomas Francis Murphy (Ghost Shark), Scott Allen Perry (Found Footage 3D) and Lara Grice (The Reaping) star.

Referencing back to the leading man, Brian Krause, The Demonologist reads like one big, scary, darker, more fucked up episode of “Charmed.” It was better than I thought it was going to be. It had one twist that I saw coming a mile away, but that was remedied with a very unexpected ending. The Demonologist is available on demand starting January 1, 2019. I would definitely recommend it to horror fans who enjoy occult movies that mix elements from thrillers and biblical demons into the mix. Watch the trailer below and see if this is something that interests you. As they say in the movie, “none of us know everything,” but I know that The Demonologist may surprise you. Final Score: 7 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)