The Truth About Demons (2000)
THE TRUTH ABOUT DEMONS
WRITER: Glenn Stranding
DIRECTOR: Glenn Stranding
STARRING: Karl Urban as Harry
Katie Wolfe as Bennie
Jonathon Hendry as Le Valliant
Sally Stockwell as Celia
QUICK CUT: A man trying to recover from the loss of his brother six months ago goes on a quest to find his soul.
Harry - A teacher who lost his brother some time ago under mysterious circumstances. His quest to find out the truth has led him down a path of devil worship and cults, and strangeness. He's a good guy, but can get very hyper focused. He believes in what he can see, what he can study, and not anything supernatural.
Benny - A young woman involved in a cult that is interested in Harry and his brother, but she escaped when things got too serious. She's now trying to guide Harry down the Winding Way and educate him on the truth behind the curtain.
Le Valliant - Someone who's name I will misspell La Valliant at least three times. The leader of the Black Lodge that is interested in Harry, and on a quest for dark power.
THE GUTS: Welcome back, Triskelions! I hope everyone had a good TG Day and is stuffed on whatever food they chose to partake in. Here at Chez Grey, we had our own food and cake, and it was yummy. But you are not here for dinner table talk, you're here for horror and badness. Unless you had enough of that with your family. And this week, I am finishing up November with a little movie from 2000, straight outta New Zealand, called The Irrefutable Truth About Demons, or in the states, they dropped the Irrefutable, because here we apparently refute truth as much as possible.. And I'm gonna roll with that because it is shorter.
The movie stars Karl Urban, whom you may recognise from some things, but I can't seem to recall any right now. Damnit, Jim, I'm a movie reviewer, not IMDB. He pays Harry, a teacher who lost his brother some time ago, and is now being drawn into the world of cults as he tries to solve the mystery.
We open up on Harry doing some research and gathering materials, and his assistant Johnny trying to scare him. The pair have a running gag going between them that they're always trying to scare the other, and Harry is way better at it. I had SOME hope that the entire plot would be a major prank by Johnny FINALLY getting one over on his professor, but that doesn't happen.
Harry gets a video tape in the mail, with a warning that a Black Lodge is after him. Uh oh, better watch out for the backwards talking dwarves and brain trees...
They watch the video, and it contains a dark coven of demon worshippers, led by Le Valliant, and he sure reminds me of Anton LaVey.
Harry heads home and runs into a run down looking woman, who we'll learn later on is named Benny. She's the one who sent him the tape, and most of what she's saying doesn't make any sense, as she's a bit scattershot.
As he tries to get to his car, he runs into a few people from the video, they threaten him a bit, then knock him out and take him back to their lairhouse.
They chain him up, but the place is such a festering hole, he manages to easily rip the chain's mooring from the floor, leaving a big hole he can then rip floorboards out from and escape. They chase him a bit with a chainsaw first, but all that does is make their home even less structurally sound than it already is.
Harry hilariously stumbles around town with torn clothes, a bloody face, and a giant collar and chain dangling from his neck. He makes quite the impression when he finds his wife at a fancy restaurant.
The police try and take his report, but the police are skeptical, thanks to the doctors finding drugs in his system, and they're tempted to just write it off as a bad trip. And for some reason, Harry keeps insisting he is the law.
Our hero goes to take a bath, but is disturbed when the Lodgers show up with his dead wife, tosses her in the tub, and tries to drown Harry to boot. He bursts out of the tub and...no one is there. Was it a dream, a nightmare, did he got too high? And again, I am allowing IT WAS ALL A DREAM stuff here, because it's all part of the Le Valliant's plot to unhinge him.
Harry comes out of the bath, calls out for Celia, but she doesn't answer. He wanders through the dark, sees she spilled some red tempera paint, and no wait, she's been killed and nailed up to the wall.
There's a message written in blood on the wall, which makes it sound like Harry killed his wife, thinking she's a demon, and of course that is precisely when the cops arrive.
So he goes on the run and rents a cheap, crap hotel room, to lay low. He gives Johnny a call and hopefully he's not to high to be of any help. They talk, he heads out to get stuff...and Johnny gets eaten by something.
Harry goes out to see what's taking Johnny so long, finds the body, and Le Valliant shows up for the taunting to begin.
Le Valliant shows him the creature, and Harry does what any right thinking man would do; run the fuck away.
He runs into Benny, they hop a bus and team up to escape and run. We also find out she's an ex member of the Lodge, and she knew Harry's brother, however briefly.
They hide out in another of a series of rundown buildings this movie takes place in. Benny wants to check him out for signs of sorcerous attacks, the first of which being a rash in the shape of an upside down cross.
Oh, and we also get the plot point that this is all to get Harry's soul to trade to some demons for unspeakable power. His brother was merely collateral damage to get the ball rolling. And that's what it's all about.
Harry, being a rational thinking man, says this all sounds like a bad mix of Allesteir Crowley, Dracula, and mythology 101. And I love Benny just scoffing and calling him "Aquarian". Being one myself, I a) respect the position of knowledge over superstition and b) love it being thrown back as an insult for being close-minded.
After casting some protection spells, Benny tries to have a late night chat about the nature of the universe, which I would be more than down for, but Harry dozes off...he's had a long day, so I guess that's okay.
Harry has some more nightmares or visions, this time of his dead brother, showing up like he's Jack from American Werewolf in London.
Later, Harry accidentally breaks the circle of protection, causing the demons to come for them, and it's time for more running!
They hide out at a club to do research, Harry ends up yelling and drawing attention to themselves. Again, he's just not having a good day! Benny asks him if anyone has ever told him he has an abrasive personality, and again I feel kinship with Harry when he grunts out, "FREQUENTLY."
Benny and Harry track down the lairhouse he was in earlier, since its the best thing to a lead they have, and they also find one of the Satanists. Benny bashes her head in good, so one down.
They see some of the other cultists lurking around, quickly hide, and follow them when they leave. Hey look, an actual smart plan!
They follow them to a greenhouse and sneak in, and Harry gets a bit of a surprise when he sees his wife alive, and well, and hugging La Valley Building Supplies.
Rather than confront the group then and there, Harry follows his wife to find out what's going on, and they end up back at their apartment.
Harry's shaken by all this, yells at Benny, no longer sure who or what he can trust. She's still a believer and tries to convince him, but despite all he has seen, Harry still sticks to his rational, rigid thinking.
So he goes up to confront his not dead wife, she doesn't know what he's talking about, and throws all the drugs he's been taking back in his face. Her version of events is that he's so consumed with grief over his brother's death, he's turned to drugs, and has been high and seeing things for days. Good cover story, and leaves reality seriously in question.
Harry actually gets convinced by this, thanks to his own rationality. Having a bad trip makes more sense than Actual Demons. But then Celia supposedly slips up when she asks about Benny. Which Harry never mentioned. Now, here's the thing; if he's been convinced he's so high on drugs he doesn't remember much from the past few days to the past few months...maybe he said it and doesn't remember? I mean, really.
The Lodgers show up, grab Harry, and taunt him for a bit, before Prince Le Valliant shows up to do some psychometric surgery and dig around for Harry's heart and soul.
Le Valley informs our hero that he'll die soon... YEAH THAT TENDS TO HAPPEN WHEN YOU REMOVE SOMEONE'S HEART AND/OR SOUL.
But they established earlier that Harry conveniently has until sunrise to reclaim his soul, so there's still a small fragment of hope.
Fortunately Benny shows up to patch him up and get this going to the final confrontation. And bonus vision from Harry's brother showing them conveniently where to go.
The dynamic duo break into the building, Benny finds Lava Lamp first, but he uses his evil mojo to stop her before she can do anything.
Aaaand I wonder how many of my Australian AND Kiwi friends I have pissed off with that one single quote from an Australian movie for a New Zealand movie.
Lavalier tries to seduce Benny back to the dark side, with a little help from one of the remaining Lodgers, but Harry shows up and stabs a knife into the minion's skull.
Benny's out of commission, leaving this just down to Harry and La Vallaint, as it should be. But having his soul in hand, gives La Valliant the advantage, as he squeezes it like a heart from Once Upon a Time.
Somehow, Harry stops all this by...tearing open his chest. The soul disappears from Lavaflow's hands and goes back home. Sure, okay, like calls to like I guess.
The demons show up, and they creep towards Harry, but I guess because the ritual did something to his soul, they now follow him, and they devour La Valliant after literally disarming him.
We fade from Larval Stage's death to an interrogation room where the cops are trying to figure out what's going on, with a convoluted story. The leader had cancer, Benny is actually his daughter and crazy and thought the cancer was a demon, seduced Harry and used him to kill the demon and her father.
Harry's gone a bit 'round the bend, Celia shows up as his lawyer, and tells him that now all this dark power resides within him. And since he wants nothing to do with Celia or the cult, she leaves him to rot in a madhouse with Benny.
So uh...who won? Le Valliant's dead, but now Harry is fueled by demonic powers? What was real? Is Harry evil or insane or just touched by darkness? Does this mean the demons won since they now have an agent on Earth? Why couldn't this all be the mother of all pranks from Johnny??
Oh, and just as a capper, Richard's ghost demon spirit thing shows up to kill Celia at the end, since she admitted to killing him. So...yay? Justice is served?
Video: It's not great, but it looks okay. I'd expect better quality from something made in 2000, but it's more than passable.
Audio: Same as video, really.
Sound Bite: "You looked scared to me!" "That's just the way I look in the morning, it's called existential fatigue." I am Harry, Harry is me...
Body Count: Small cast, few deaths, but not a bad showing.
1 - 22:30 and our first death is Celia when she's found crucified.
2 - A demon shows up and eats Johnny
3 - Benny bashes in a cult member's face
4 - Harry stabs the dude with all the chains in the head.
5 - The demons eat La Valliant
6 - Richard's ghost kills Celia...AGAIN.
Best Corpse: Johnny's death stands out since it's sudden and brutal.
Blood Type - B-: Got some good blood and gore, especially during the surgery, and when harry rips open his chest, and I just upgraded the score. The cheap CGI blood at times does hurt it though.
Sex Appeal: Lotsa shirtless Karl Urban!
Drink Up! Every time Harry doesn't believe what's going on.
Movie Review: I actually enjoyed this movie. Keeping in mind that it's a low budget movie, made in New Zealand which isn't a big production studio type place, unless your movie has Hobbits in it, it's pretty solid. The story is decent enough, although it maybe tries to get too complex in the final moments. It's got some good tension, the leads are good enough actors... It was fun, but the biggest problem is the ambiguity of the ending. It feels less like leaving things up to the audience, and closer to 'we don't quite have a good ending'. The sudden casual drop of, "Oh yeah, it was ME who killed your brother!" in the last five minutes feels random and not entirely earned. And just what IS the truth about demons? Three out of five pulsing souls.
Entertainment Value: The low budget nature does still give it plenty of camp to enjoy, and while Karl Urban is as good as always, he's not on the top of his game, but that's fine. The effects are cheap but work, and I actually like the design of the demons, as they're something unique. This is a fine way to kill 90 minutes. Three out of five dog collars.