aka The Truth About Demons
Director/Screenplay – Glenn Standring, Producer – Dave Gibson, Photography – Simon Baufield, Music – Victoria Kelly & Joost Langeveld, Visual Effects Director – Nigel Streeter, Demon Animation Director – Euan Fritzell, Demon Design – Troy Kennedy, Prosthetics – Alex Kennedy, Production Design – Clive Memmott. Production Company – First Sun/The New Zealand Film Commission
Karl Urban (Dr Harry Ballard), Katie Wolfe (Benny), Jonathan Hendry (Paul Le Valiant), Sally Stockwell (Celia), Paul McIvor (Johnny)
Harry Ballard, a anthropology lecturer specialising in debunking the occult, receives a threatening videotape from a cult known as The Black Lodge saying that they are coming after him. Shortly afterwards, The Black Lodge attempt to abduct Harry and then slaughter his girlfriend, leaving him blamed for the murder. On the run, pursued by the cult and the demons they conjure forth, Harry must trust a strange girl in order to survive.
This New Zealand-made production, a debut from director Glenn Standring, is a modest effort. The title certainly catches one’s interest on the video shelf, although this pans out to a fairly ordinary plot that has been distilled from a lot of familiar genre films. There is the sceptic who becomes a believer in the occult as he is hounded by Satanists – Night of the Demon/Curse of the Demon (1957), Night of the Eagle/Burn, Witch, Burn (1961); the long dark night of the soul pursued by Hellish forces – The Evil Dead II (1987) and especially Clive Barker’s short story The Last Illusion (1985), which eventually became Lord of Illusions (1995); the moment the hero thinks all of this might be due to his fraying sanity. Glenn Standring co-opts a lot of imagery from the Goth/body-piercing crowd – with the hero being pursued by tattooed, pierced, dark semi-clad sinister-looking people.
For a time, The Irrefutable Truth About Demons looks like it is going to come out all surface glitter and little substance – the pursuing cultists never seem to do much more than hiss, snarl and stand around looking sinister, although cult leader Jonathan Hendry eventually gives a tight, nicely controlled performance in the latter half. However, Glenn Standring does create a number of effective shocks throughout – the hero scuttling under floorboards as the pursuing cultists chainsaw through from above; a flash fantasy of the hero’s girlfriend drowning in the bath with a slit throat; the wonderfully icky moment where hero Karl Urban is held down, his mouth filled with cockroaches and then his heart removed from his chest. The full-scale demon effects are quite good and Standring prudently keeps them to the shadows and only briefly glimpsed to heighten their effectiveness. The Irrefutable Truth About Demons is a film that sits just between formula and effectiveness but Glenn Standring’s direction pushes it over into the modestly worthwhile.
Glenn Standring next went onto make the conceptually ambitiously alternate world vampire film Perfect Creature (2006). Beyond that, he has acted as screenwriter/producer for Toa Fraser on The Dead Lands (2014) and 6 Days (2017), both non-genre.