PLOT: The servants of the diety Cernunnos, known as the supreme hunter, release a group of people into Germany’s Black Forest to be hunted down one-by-one.
REVIEW: According to online trivia, Demigod writer/director and Mississippi native Miles Doleac had an “academic focus” on Greco-Roman antiquity and earned a Ph.D. in Ancient History, and his education must have led him to the legend of Cernunnos, a diety in the Gallo-Roman religion. Some believe that Cernunnos was considered to be the Lord of the Animals or the Lord of Wild Things, and Doleac has taken that idea and run with it, building a horror movie around it. But not only did Doleac put his education to use in crafting Demigod, he has also used the film as a showcase for his German accent, which he must be at least quite confident in, if not proud of. Some of the most important lines of exposition in the film are spoken by Doleac’s German character, in English but with a thick accent.
Doleac isn’t the only cast member who sports a fake accent, and when these folks start speaking they tend to go on and on for several minutes at a time. I have to admit, the spectacle of these accents did distract me from some major lines along the way, and I had to go back to them and listen to them over again to properly take in what was being said. But in the end, I would say it doesn’t really matter if you miss certain lines as you make your way through Demigod. If you get the basic gist of it – there’s a group of people who dwell in the Black Forest of Germany who consider themselves “servants of the hunter” and the “protectors of the forest”, who send people into the wild as a sacrifice to the demigod Cernunnos – you have all the information you really need to know.
Doleac and co-writer Michael Donovan Horn do try to get us emotionally invested in this whole thing by centering the story on Robin Murphy (Rachel Nichols) and her husband Leo (Yohance Myles), an American couple who have ventured into the Black Forest to visit the remote cabin Robin’s late grandfather (played by Jeremy London in flashbacks and dreams) has left to her. The characters are somewhat likeable and the actors do well in their roles – I have been a fan of Nichols’ since the days of Alias and P2, and find that she can always be relied on to deliver a solid performance – but I still couldn’t manage to care about them… or any of the other characters (including Doleac’s) they end up wandering the wilderness with after the “servants of the hunter” capture them and send them out into the 70,000 square mile forest.
The hunt begins – after the Cernunnos devotees have rambled on for nearly ten minutes straight and finally set their victims loose – when there’s still about half of the 94 minute running time left, but don’t expect Demigod to turn into a thrill-a-minute actionfest at that point. The set-up of people being stalked through the woods by a horned beast-man somehow comes across as being rather dull when brought to the screen and populated with shrug-inducing characters, and the sight of a horned man-beast wearing a cape is more comical than frightening. When you’re watching a movie, anyway. I certainly wouldn’t want to run into a bloodthirsty horned man-beast wearing a cape in my personal life.
I found Demigod to be a disappointingly underwhelming movie and can’t recommend seeking it out. I wouldn’t call it flat-out bad, but I didn’t enjoy the time I spent with it. I couldn’t connect with the story or the characters, I didn’t care about anything that was happening, the presentation was off-putting to me, and the action wasn’t exciting enough to be worth slogging through the scenes around it.
This is the second Doleac film I have reviewed, the previous one being last year’s The Dinner Party. I also wasn’t a fan of that movie, but I would say that Demigod is an improvement mainly because it’s 21 minutes shorter.
Gravitas Ventures is giving Demigod a theatrical and VOD release on October 15th.