‘Don’t Look at the Demon’ Delivers Fine Acting, Impressive Special Effects

Ben Friedman


Tell me if you have heard this synopsis before. Two paranormal investigators go to a creepy house in the middle of nowhere and discover that evil lurks nearby, and in doing so, uncover their own personal demons. From Poltergeist, The Exorcist, and Sinister, demons in haunted houses are well represented within the horror genre. Redundant as these stories may seem, their popularity amongst mainstream audiences is undeniable. Look no further than the past decade of The Conjuring franchise, which despite the repetitiveness of the stories, continues to scare audiences. But what happens when one deprives a film of its scares? Well, you get a film like Don’t Look at the Demon.


Directed by Brando Lee, Don’t Look at the Demon (available to stream on November 22) is based on “real life” banned rituals and experiences the filmmaker had in his personal life. Horror icon Fiona Dourif (Chucky) stars as Jules, a paranormal investigator who heads to the Malaysian hillsides with her tv partner, played by Harris Dickinson (Triangle of Sadness, Where the Crawdads Sing) to investigate a supposed haunted house. Once there, Jules discovers that answers to a traumatic event in her childhood lie within the confines of the house.



A seasoned screen queen, Dourif is well cast within the role.  A physical performer, her facial expressions and ticks create a sense of dread that feels genuine. As her screen partner, Dickinson has a good on-screen chemistry with Dourif and overcomes the burden of having to deliver much of the film’s exposition monologues and does so with ease. The film features some great visual flairs and excellent use of jump scares. Lee achieves impressively scary special effects despite the low-budget nature of the film. It is clear that he and the actors know how to make a horror movie, which begs the question, “Why wasn’t I scared?”


The simple answer is the script. Tension is replaced by a bludgeoning sensation of familiarity. The story unfolds as if generated by AI technology tasked with writing The Exorcist. The structure is cliched, the character actions are derivative, and the payoff is obvious. The feeling of unpredictability is never present, stripping the film of tension. What is left is a film that understands the technological side of creating horror, but fails at understanding what makes something horrifying.



Despite the great acting and special effects, if Don’t Look at the Demon was the first horror film one saw, I am sure one would find it scary. For the rest of us, the film isn’t quite clever enough to win over non-horror fans. But Don’t Look at the Demon is still worth watching.

The film is available to stream starting on November 21, 2022.


Author Bio:

Ben Friedman is a freelance film journalist and a contributing writer at Highbrow Magazine. For more of his reviews, visit bentothemovies.com, his podcast Ben and Bran See a Movie, or follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube: The Beniverse.


For Highbrow Magazine


not popular
Bottom Slider: 
In Slider