Dir. Shreco Bakari (2023)
A group of college students on vacation before finals find themselves in a dangerous situation when one of their group becomes possessed.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
It can be difficult to find value in short films that run on the longer side, as they often feel a bit lost between a the true short film length and the longer runtime of a feature. Demoniacal, the new joint from Georgia filmmaker Shreco Bakari, struggles in this regard, running around forty minutes and feeling a bit longer than it perhaps should've been in its current state or a bit shorter than it would be if Bakari were able to develop it a little more. A director at the beginning of his career, Bakari still manages to utilize his impressive eye for horror in creating what instead becomes more of a demo of the type of film he's capable of producing when he leans fully into the more supernatural element of the genre he clearly knows so well.
In Demoniacal, a group of college students are borrowing a family home to take a break from their school life and try to get in some undistracted studying time before finals. One of their group (played incredibly well by Bakari himself) is a bit more troubled than the rest, a slowly-revealed characterization that becomes even more grim when his cousin tells the rest of the group that he is going to be hospitalized for his mental issues when they return home. As he wanders away from the rest of his friends into the woods, things go from bad to worse as he finds a book wrapped in barbed wire with horrific, violent writing within. He drops dead shortly thereafter only to be resurrected as a demon who tells the rest of the group that they will be dead before the night is over.
Bakari's previous film Maniacal Night was incredibly impressive, a found footage throwback with a vicious streak that shows just what filmmakers of today are capable of producing with a tiny budget and some genre knowhow. While Demoniacal doesn't quite live up to its predecessor, Bakari's portrayal of the demon is chilling and incredibly effective. Most of the effects budget must've gone into transforming him into the creature in the film, and it shows: it's disturbing, violent, and genuinely creepy-as-hell. The rest of the film doesn't quite live up to Bakari's demon, however, and it truly does feel like a short that should've had a bit more narrative added to make it into a feature instead.
Who this movie is for: Short horror lovers, Possession movie fans, Rare book collectors
Bottom line: While Demoniacal doesn't quite live up to Bakari's previously-shown potential, it's a worthwhile short with some gnarly demon effects and an example of how indie filmmakers can still use found footage to great effect. If you don't mind your shorts being a little on the longer side, definitely give this one a look.