In Demon Hunter, actress Niamh Hogan plays Taryn Barker, an ass-kicking protagonist with a personal grudge against the forces of evil. Within the first few minutes we see a hilariously bad CG title sequence, loud and obnoxious techno music, and our hero spouting an atrocious one-liner. Welcome back to the late 90’s/early 2000’s. At first, I was really into the film because I thought it was a throwback to the antiquated action films of yesteryear, but about 20 minutes in it becomes painfully obvious that this isn’t a send-up, it’s just a badly dated movie that takes itself way too seriously. It’s like Buffy the Vampire Slayer without the charm, humor, and talented cast, and a lot like Blade without the budget. Demon Hunter has its fair share of interesting ideas, but it’s far too ambitious for its own good. It shot for the moon and instead of landing amongst the stars it plummeted straight into a dumpster.
“It’s like Buffy the Vampire Slayer without the charm, humor, and talented cast…”
The acting ranges from average to downright awful. Niamh Hogan’s take on Taryn is probably the second strongest performance in the film, but sadly a lot of her more emotional scenes become intensely distracting due to a laughably ridiculous wig. It reminded me of Samurai Cop, and that’s not a good thing here. Alan Talbot plays Detective Beckett, a cop whose daughter gets abducted by big bad demon boss Falstaff (played by Michael Parle). Beckett must work together with Taryn in order to save his daughter, but Taryn’s soul is locked in an inconvenient battle of good vs. evil. Talbot is a snooze-fest; he doesn’t have the range of emotions the script tasks his character with showing. His acting is extraordinarily awkward. Parle as the main antagonist delivers a creepy performance, and while he shines above everyone else, he’s still only adequate. There’s no one else worth mentioning, really. We don’t feel any connection to any of the other characters. They just show up, exposit something silly or die off immediately. We get a lot of flashbacks fleshing out Taryn’s backstory, and they’re not necessary. It would have benefited the story and the character to keep her past history vaguer. You can get behind her as a mysterious badass demon hunter, but the story keeps getting interrupted by cheesy expositional backstory that’d be better implied rather than shown.
“…this film feels like something that was dug out of a time capsule buried back in 2001.”
Another major problem this film has is its erratic soundtrack. One second it blasts you in the face with the aforementioned obnoxious techno action score, and then it goes weird with synth-pop that sounds like John Carpenter farting on a cheap Casio keyboard. There are two scenes that instantly become silly due to its song choices, a funeral scene, and a training montage. It reminded me of the Evanescence songs from 2003’s Daredevil, except with that film we can think, “Okay, this is silly now, but back in 2003 this kind of music was pretty popular.” Demon Hunter was released in 2016, and there’s virtually no excuse for things to be this cringe worthy. Look, I always hate tearing apart indie stuff, making films is a ridiculously hard and expensive process and I have respect for anyone that has the drive and ambition to try, but this film feels like something that was dug out of a time capsule buried back in 2001. Watching it just reminded me of the superior, yet still dated, films it tries to emulate; Blade, Blade 2 (with its piss gold and teal color palette), X-Men, and The Crow just to name a few. With a less than stellar cast, a terrible soundtrack, and a far too ambitious story outside of the filmmaker’s capabilities to put to screen, there’s nothing here that would lead to anything resembling a recommendation. Exorcize this movie from your DVD player and watch something else.
Demon Hunter (2017) Directed by: Zoe Kavanagh. Written by: Tony Flynn and Zoe Kavanagh. Starring: Niamh Hogan, Michael Parle, Alan Talbot, Kevin O’Malley, Sarah Tapes Jenkinson
5 out of 10