Horror has always had a complicated relationship with the fairer sex. It’s the only genre (with the exception of porn) where women routinely headline, and they have a much higher survival rate than their male counterparts, but they’re also expected to blunder into dangerous situations without a second thought, and not to complain about the obligatory nude scenes. Sometimes empowering, sometimes exploitative, it’s down to individual directors how they choose to treat their female characters. In the case of Rand Vossler, first-time writer/director of supernatural possession chiller DEMON LEGACY (also known as SEE HOW THEY RUN), he’s taken the path of least resistance. Not only are all of the women in his film young, perky and attractive, they spend most of their time running around in their underwear.
It’s clear from the outset that DEMON LEGACY isn’t going to be a great film. It both looks and sounds cheap, and the writing is stilted and amateurish. Vossler’s direction lacks flair, and the ropy digital effects add to the impression of a TV movie with boobs. On the plus side, the performances, while sometimes less than stellar, never lack enthusiasm, and the practical effects – especially the makeup – are excellent. After the usual getting-to-know-you preamble the supernatural shenanigans are quick to arrive, and Vossler maintains the frantic pace for the next hour. It makes for an entertaining ride, but it also means that the lead characters succumb too swiftly to the demonic threat. More victims are required, leading to new characters appearing without introductions or back stories, and being just as rapidly dispatched. Worse, the plot runs out of steam twenty minutes before the end, resulting in a denouement that’s drawn out and disappointing.
Most disappointing of all, however, is the portrayal of the female characters. Because sex sells, there are superfluous shower and hot tub nude scenes, and a dash of lipstick lesbianism. As noted above, the women spend most of their time in sexy sleepwear, and the process of demonic possession seems to leave them in a state of perpetual orgasm. This wouldn’t be so bad if the plucky final girl could fend for herself, but time and again Vossler allows men to save the day. First it’s the cheating ex-boyfriend who swoops in and rescues the damsels in distress, then some random woodsman/demon killer. It’s pointless and patronising.
You’ve got to admire Vossler’s dedication. DEMON LEGACY was two years in the making, during which the production had to overcome a flood, a forest fire, a blizzard, and a chronic shortage of cash. That it managed to emerge as a completed feature is a remarkable achievement, and testament to the persistence and hard work of indie filmmakers. If you’re willing to overlook the glaring plot holes, subpar digital effects and abundance of clichés, DEMON LEGACY is an enjoyable horror homage to THE EVIL DEAD. It’s just a shame the same level of attention wasn’t paid to the women’s characters as to how good they looked naked.