Demons 3: The Ogre

Friday, April 4th, 2008 @ 4:43 am | DVD

Demons 3: The Ogre
Tagline: What happens when the nightmares of your childhood suddenly become reality?
Released: 1991
Starring Virginia Bryant, David Flosi, Patrizio Vinci
Directed by Lamberto Bava
Written by Lamberto Bava, Dardano Sacchetti

Format: DVD
Distributed by Shriek Show
Released: August 19, 2003

Features:
Trailer
Interview with Lamberto Bava

Premise: Cheryl, a best-selling author of horror novels, goes on vacation with her family to an ancient villa in the Italian countryside. Legend has it the villa is said to be cursed, and very soon, Cheryl realizes that the hideous ogre that haunted her dreams as a child is alive and living in the basement of this very house. She becomes obsessed with his presence but fails to convince anyone else that he exists. It’s not until the ogre kills the babysitter and kidnaps Cheryl’s child that it becomes apparent that the stories she writes are becoming reality.

Plot Breakdown (spoilers): Ever since she was a child, Cheryl has had frequent nightmares of a fiendish ogre dwelling in the basement of a stately European castle. Years after the nightmares, Cheryl has now become a world famous horror author, and lives in Italy with her husband Tom and son Bobby. While on vacation in the Italian countryside, Cheryl and her family take up residence in an old Italian villa… that seems to look all too familiar to Cheryl. Now the nightmares of her childhood are coming true, as the monster in the basement of the villa begins to make its presence known. Cheryl must now find a way to stop the beast before it can harm her family.

Demons 3: The Ogre

The Good: Fans of the first two Demons films should not be fooled by this film’s title. Demons 3 is in no way related to its predecessors in terms of plot, mood, or themes. The only resemblance to the previous entries is that Lamberto Bava lensed this film. Demons 3 is more of a gothic thriller, rather than the fast paced, gory spectacle of the first two.

Given the moodier tone of this entry, Bava directs the film with an eye for the gothic and atmospheric appeal of the ancient architecture in which the film takes place. Sweeping outdoor shots capture the beauty of the Italian countryside and the old villa that serves as the setting, while the moody interior scenes show off the ancient, lived-in look of the building. Bava utilizes these shots to really instill a sense of dread of an insidious evil lurking in the shadows. The film really plays upon the fear of evil dwelling in the home, a place which we usually think of as our safest haven. Very little is explained about the ogre’s origins and motives, which helps add to the sense of mystery in the film, although it can be a double-edged sword.

A slower-paced film like this needs suspense to keep viewers interested. Thankfully Demons 3 delivers in this respect. There a several scenes where Cheryl encounters, what appears to be, signs of the Ogre’s presence, such as a handprint in the dust on a window. This may sound mundane, but when combined with the tense atmosphere and appropriate musical cues, it makes for decent suspense and a palpable sense of the unknown. One memorable scene in particular involves Cheryl encountering desiccated corpses while underwater, echoing the opening scene of Argento’s Inferno.

Though Demons 3 may not have the gore of its predecessors, it still contains some gruesome creature effects. The ogre itself is a sight to behold, its twisted visage consisting of jutting gums and teeth and a lower jaw that flicks back and forth. Strangely enough, the ogre is dressed in a Renaissance gentleman’s attire, perhaps suggesting just how long he has existed in that castle. There is also a slimy cocoon that the ogre comes out of, which pulsates and drips with a green, puss-like substance. The cocoon’s sound effects alone are nauseating, with wet squelching sounds that will surely destroy some appetites.

The acting in this movie is surprisingly above average for being in a dubbed Italian film. The primary characters deliver their lines with enough life and emphasis to make one forget that dubbing even took place. The child actor, while not great, is good enough to not be nearly as annoying as child actors usually are in dubbed films.

This DVD release comes with a brief filmed interview with Lamberto Bava. The interview reveals some interesting information on the making of the film, such as the process of creating the film’s atmosphere and setting, and why Bava chose some of the actors. Despite the brevity of the segment, it is still a good watch for those interested in learning some additional background tidbits about the film.

The Bad: Despite the effectiveness of the suspense that was previously mentioned, there isn’t a whole lot of it to go around. A lot of this stems from the film’s plot and pacing. Several scenes are largely redundant or filler, such as Tom and Bob getting lost in the woods, and a strange yet amusing run-in with a cow. The same nightmare that is shown at the beginning is repeated several more times throughout the film. Though some twists are added each time it is shown, far too much of the sequence is repeated each time, which hurts the suspense. A large portion of the film is dedicated to Cheryl arguing with her husband Tom, who refuses to believe her claims that an ogre lives in the basement. These scenes pop up way too much throughout the film and become annoyingly redundant.

Though the film does benefit from leaving us in the dark on the ogre’s origins, there are still some basic questions that viewers may want to have answered, such as why Cheryl is having the dreams and why the Ogre chose her, of all people. The only known motive of the ogre is a pretty weak one, which involves the ogre’s affinity for the scent of orchids.

Once the ogre’s physical presence becomes front and center in the second half of the film, much of the creepiness of the creature is vanquished. The ogre is shown in the light way too often, which makes it easier to notice the low budget and detracts from the hideousness of the creature. Cheapness is made more apparent, especially when the ogre starts running in plain view across a victim’s front lawn, making him look less like a fearsome ogre and more like a heavily-costumed trick-or-treater, who is eager for some delicious candy. The way in which the ogre is dispatched is hilarious in how embarrassing it is to the poor creature, and leads into an overly happy ending.

Aside from the interview mentioned earlier, the only other special feature on the DVD is a trailer. No featurettes or commentaries are included, making for a rather bare-bones release to say the least.

Final Thoughts: If one goes into this film expecting to see another gruesome action-horror romp like the first two Demons films, then they will surely be disappointed. Demons 3 ultimately succeeds in being mostly a competent, yet flawed, gothic thriller.
Grade: C (film) | D (DVD release)

- by contributing reviewer Chris Neville

 

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