To prepare myself for viewing The Demon’s Rook, I sat down and watched writer/director James Sizemore’s short film “Goat Witch”. From that, I took away that even if Rook was terrible, I was going to be in for some spectacularly gory practical effects, and probably some nudity. People, sometimes that’s all I’m looking for in my horror movie. I’m pretty easy to please, what can I say? As it turns out, The Demon’s Rook is exactly that, a practical effects showcase with just a bit of an identity problem that prevents it from being truly good.
From the Press Release:
THE DEMON’S ROOK (trailer: http://youtu.be/1QUihJwpJ2I)
Chaos descends upon a quiet town when Roscoe, the pupil of a wizard monk from an ancient race of demons, unknowingly opens a portal that allows an unspeakable evil to travel freely into our world. When three grisly beasts cross into our dimension, the living are possessed and the dead rise to destroy everything in their path. Armed with demons’ magic, Roscoe is the only fighting chance to put an end to their eternal path of destruction. An ode to the DIY creature-feature classics of the 1980’s, THE DEMON’S ROOK is a “gut-flinging monster mash” (Dread Central) that you won’t soon forget.
When a young boy named Roscoe, who seems to be a bit obsessed with drawing Demons, finds a portal in the woods outside his home, he disappears into another dimension. Roscoe finds himself taken by a demon named Dimwos and trained in the art of dark magic. Dimwos, knowing he will eventually need a successor, is preparing him to take his place guarding over the trapped essence three of the most evil entities in existence. Years pass by, with Roscoe having no memory of his life before entering the portal, and his power continuing to grow. When his memory eventually does return, Roscoe throws a temper tantrum, resulting in the evil demons getting released. Unable to fight them alone, Roscoe flees back to our dimension, bringing the demons back to Earth behind him.
That may seem like a fairly detailed synopsis, but honestly I learned most of that from reading about the movie after I finished watching it. That should tell you all you need to know about the film’s narrative. When the movie first started, I feared for the worst. The characters were un-interesting, the acting was poor, and not a whole lot was happening to keep my attention. I stuck with it though, and ended up being glad I did. It took almost 40 minutes for things to start making some semblance of sense with the plot. When things did get cranked up, and I started thinking I had a feel for where the movie was headed, it changed again. New characters being introduced at the one hour point, seemingly from nowhere, skipping around from locale to locale, with nothing much more than a different type of monster showing up and ripping apart people we’d not been shown up until that moment. One minute there’s demons, the next there’s zombies, and so on. It almost felt like I was watching some sort of fucked up anthology with segments somehow all loosely interconnected.
Save for Sizemore himself, there isn’t much to talk about performance-wise. Most of the cast is seems to be made up of non-actors, and it’s painfully obvious at times, and just noticeable at its best. Getting actors to be in your picture when working with a microbudget can’t be easy though, so while everyone may not be able to, I got to the point where I could look past it. There was one scene in particular that was groan inducing, which featured a group of good ole boys sitting around on a porch drinking beer suddenly breaking out into a hoe down as one of them stomped around singing about his intentions to marry some woman named Barbara. If it sounds awful based on that description, believe me when I tell you, witnessing it first hand is much, much worse.
If you can make it past the first half hour or so, there’s some fun to be had with The Demon’s Rook, especially if you like monster make-ups and practical effects. Gorehounds will also find plenty of the red stuff to enjoy. The plot staggers initially, finds its legs for a bit, then regresses to once again not being able to decide what kind of movie it wants to be. If you like variety in your horror movie, you may even dig that aspect of Rook. For me, I initially didn’t care for it, but by the end I was having a blast. I can see myself revisiting it and likely enjoying it more, now that I’ve got a better understanding of it.