Newly engaged lovebirds Piotr (Itay Tyran) and Zaneta (Agnieszka Zulewska) haven't known each other for very long, a fact pointed out by the bride's judgmental father, Zygmunt (Andrzej Grabowski). Director Marcin Wrona's Demon, an acidic and unforgiving horror film, amplifies these suspicions by giving them a historical and moral subtext when the couple's rain-drenched wedding goes from bad to cataclysmic.
The nuptials are doomed even before vows are exchanged. Surveying an old plot of land that Zaneta has inherited from her deceased grandfather, Piotr stumbles upon a collection of buried human bones. As a result, he slowly falls prey to the menacing, wandering spirit from Jewish folklore called "dybbuk," which produces nosebleeds, paranoia and eventually cryptic hallucinations.
Wrona (who tragically committed suicide in Sept. 2015) bypasses many of the traditional genre directives we might associate with such a setup to focus on something more sinister: the human ego. Piotr's unhinged behavior inspires a host of different reactions in various guests heralding from the small Polish town where Demon calls home.
A local doctor (a closeted drunk) tries to diagnose Piotr but fails miserably. The town priest has no interest in an exorcism and just wants to leave. Only a verbose Jewish scholar has the knowledge or the inclination to try and remedy the situation. Each becomes a symbol for community institutions unable to reconcile past traumas.
These failures trickle out to possess individuals as well, like Piotr's shady in-laws who do everything they can to cover up the embarrassment of a ceremony gone awry. Zygmunt's vodka infused-speech is denial incarnate: "We must forget...what we didn't see."
Demon, which opens Friday, Sept. 30, at Ken Cinema, evokes the great Luis Bunuel with its skewering dark humor (at one point the drunken wedding party crosses paths with a somber funeral procession). In a land that's "built on corpses," this is where fairytales were born to go rotten.
Deepwater Horizon: Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg team up to tell the story of those heroic workers who survived the oil rig explosion off the coast of Louisiana in 2010.
Demon: A spirit possesses a young man on the eve of his wedding day, turning the ceremony itself into one of embarrassment and horror. Opens Friday, Sept. 30, at Ken Cinema.
Ixanul: This debut film from Guatemalan director Jayro Bustamante depicts the daily lives of the Kaqchikel speaking Mayans living on a coffee plantation. Screens through Thursday, Oct. 6, at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
La Belle et La Bête (Beauty and the Beast): French superstars Vincent Cassel and Léa Seydoux star in this visually ravishing adaptation of the classic fairytale. Screens through Thursday, Oct. 6, at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Masterminds: Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite) directs this long-delayed comedy about a night watchman who decides to orchestrate one of the biggest bank heists in American history. Stars Jason Sudeikis, Kristin Wiig, Owen Wilson, and Kate McKinnon.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: Tim Burton returns to form with this adaptation of the popular novel by Ransom Riggs about a teenage boy who embarks on a fantastic journey with a group of children with special powers.
Queen of Katwe: In this uplifting biopic, a Uganda girl sees her life change after being introduced to the game of chess. Co-stars David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong’o.
San Diego Int’l Film Festival: From Wednesday, Sept. 28, through Sunday, Oct. 2, at multiple venues around the county, this annual film event will showcase films from around the world, host multiple parties and conduct panel discussions with critics and industry professionals. For more information visit sdfilmfest.com.
One Time Only
The Hunting Ground: This Academy Award-nominated documentary from Kirby Dick explores the rape epidemic on university campuses across the United States. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, at the Women’s Museum of California in Liberty Station.
The Wedding Singer: Adam Sandler stars as a burnt out performer who falls in love with a sweet woman who happens to be dating a complete jerk named Glenn. Co-starring Drew Barrymore. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
The Big Lebowski: Joel and Ethan Coen’s classic take on the screwball comedy involves a dope-smoking bowler (Jeff Bridges) who gets caught up in a criminal scheme involving a wealthy businessman. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Multiple Maniacs: John Waters’ 1970 comedy tells the insane tale of a traveling sideshow whose performers are also psychotic kidnappers. Screens at 11:55 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, at Ken Cinema.
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby: Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly co-star as NASCAR drivers who try to stave off the advances of their fierce competition in Adam McKay’s comedy. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.