Demons Never Die (2011)
“Fear has a new face, but whose face is it?”
Director: Arjun Rose
Cast: Robert Sheehan, Ashley Walters, Tulisa Contostavlos
Synopsis: When a young girl takes her own life, Archie and the other Suicide Kids decide to follow her lead and form a pact. But as the group begin to die one by one, Archie realizes that they have all become the target of a masked killer
A few years back there was a spate of teen suicides in some small town (possibly in Wales) which briefly made the headlines, and it’s clear that this bizarre episode provided one of the many inspirations for this colourless British entry in the stalk-and-slash genre. The fact that this strand of the movie’s story is laughably discarded around the halfway mark provides a telling indication of the lazy screenwriting from first-time writer and director Arjun Rose.
The idea of a group of disaffected school-age teens entering into a suicide pact could make a compelling movie if it provided the core of the story, but in Demons Never Die it’s merely a clunky sub-plot devised to bring together a group of wildly disparate — yet stereotypical — characters who otherwise wouldn’t have anything to do with one another in the clique-riddled society of school life. A neat opening credits sequence introduces us to them all as they gather to be informed of the suicide of one of their number, a girl named Amber Johnson, who’s played by the former X-Factor judge and singer Tulisa Contostavlos who, at the time of writing, is struggling to avoid becoming a former free person as she contests charges of drug dealing. Amber has to be the only person ever to choose to commit suicide by stabbing herself repeatedly in the belly, but that’s how investigating cops Bates (Ashley Walters) and Mason (Reggie Yates) see it.
The group of kids planning to do themselves in are a little annoyed that Amber jumped the gun on them, but push on with their own joint plan, even though they struggle to agree on just how they’re going to go about it. Some favour hanging, others pills, and so on. To be honest, they all come across as so incredibly shallow and self-absorbed that it’s impossible to take their intention to end their lives seriously. It also diminishes the threat of a serial killer when the killer’s intended victims want to die which is presumably why the surviving kids, with only one exception, have that sudden unanimous change of heart and decide they want to live after all. Naturally, this merely makes them prime targets for whoever is committing the murders, and things come to a head during a house party.
No doubt the lack of originality in Demons Never Die shines through in every line of the above synopsis. Story-wise there is nothing to set it apart from the many thousands of teens-in-peril movies we’ve been subjected to over the past thirty years, although director Rose at least attempts a few creative flourishes. He also attempts to keep us guessing as to the identity of the killer, and it’s tempting to believe that’s because the revelation is one that makes no sense at all. There’s no back story to explain exactly how the killer became the way they are, we’re just asked to accept that such is the case. Rose also throws in a few red herrings which fool nobody as he painstakingly cribs from other, better, movies. The young cast give it their best shot — although they’re all in their early-to-mid-twenties (in fact some are only five years younger than Walters) and don’t really convince as mid-teens. Walters’ trademark surly face looks out of place on the front of a copper’s head, and it’s tempting to believe he’s thinking of his agent every time we see that permafix scowl. It’s too late for him now — he’ll be forever associated with this dud — but it’s not too late for some of you.