Australia | 2014 | Directed by Ursula Dabrowsky
Logline: After a serial killer couple abducts a teenage girl and her young sister the older girl escapes, but finds she is fighting for survival at every turn.
Innocence runs the gauntlet of evil in Ursula Dabrowsky’s stunning second feature, and the second in her projected “Demon” trilogy (the first being 2009’s Family Demons). The first movie dealt with a dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship, now it is the threat on a pair of siblings, the deadly menace bearing down on plucky sixteen-year-old Sam (Sarah Jeavons) and her kid sister Maddy (Scarlett Hocking).
Home alone one night, the two sisters are the victims of a house invasion and kidnapping. Sarah recovers consciousness in the dark confines of a car boot. She uses her wily wits to escape the clutches of Karl (Andreas Sobik) and Denise (Kerry Ann Read, from Family Demons). Denise is in hot pursuit, and the two pitch headlong into the surrounding remote scrubland. Sarah manages to elude her abductors, but discovers a mortal wound in her abdomen. Temporary shelter presents itself in the form of a residential cabin.
Out of the frying pan and into the fire.
With a lean, mean stylistic Ursula Dabrowsky has fashioned a unique and powerful horror-thriller that writhes like a cut snake, and squirms like a Tasmanian Devil. A young girl might be held captive, but Inner Demon takes no prisoners. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on the nightmare, the terror twists in another direction. A spectre looms, as Sarah’s grasp on mortality slips through her bloodied fingers.
There is a Euro-horror atmosphere to this Australian setting. Yes, the accents (with the exception of Karl’s Bavarian brogue) are Aussie, and the place names are too, but there is a distinct “international” air that permeates the movie. It’s as if the movie could be happening to foreigners in Spain or France even. There is no native fauna, and the only cast members are the two sisters, the two serial killers, Wayne (Todd Telford), a luckless friend of theirs, and a couple of faceless paramedics at movie’s end. It’s as if the whole movie is strangely insulated, trapped within its own nightmare fabric, a curious sense of claustrophobia that taunts and probes.
Superbly shot and edited, and featuring a fantastic score from Michael Taylor, who also worked on the sound, Inner Demon prowls and growls with a growing intensity, the crimson iris widening like a supernatural whirlpool. When violence rears its ugly head, it does with a sudden, visceral ferocity. Dabrowsky knows a thing or two about the cinematic impact of a well-heeled nightmare.
Sarah Jeavons is a revelation, having never acted before; she delivers a tour-de-force of emotional and physical fragility and resilience, burning up the screen with a spunky charisma, she gives the Final Girl embodiment a fresh strut. Andreas Sobik’s gruff hulk provides ample backwoods ogre presence.
Inner Demon is part of the new wave of Australian horror, confident and assured, knowing, but not pretentious, harnessing the basic, but necessary elements to tell a ripping tale of terror that reverberates long after the final demonic glower. Yes, kudos to Dabrowsky for not pulling a soft punch for the ending.
Inner Demon had its World Premiere at A Night Of Horror International Film Festival, Friday, November 21st.