Demon, a film directed by Marcin Wrona and co-financed by the Polish Film Institute, was released theatrically in the United States on September 9. The film has enjoyed some very favourable reviews.


Demon, a feature film directed by Marcin Wrona and co-financed by the Polish Film Institute, was released theatrically in the United States on September 9. The film has enjoyed some very favourable reviews.
Marcin Wrona’s Demon had its world premiere at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival and went on the festival circuit, winning the award for Best Feature Horror at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas. In October 2015, the film was released theatrically in Poland. In March 2016, Demon was selected to screen at New York City’s New Directors/New Films festival, a prestigious event organised by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art.

On September 9, Demon was released theatrically in the United States, with distribution handled by The Orchard, distributor of such acclaimed films as the Oscar-nominated documentary Cartel Land and the comedy horror What We Do in the Shadows.

High Rating on RottenTomatoes.com

Even before its official release in American cinemas, Demon enjoyed great reviews, achieving a 90% rating on RottenTomatoes.com. Dennis Dermody of Papermag.com recommended Wrona’s last feature to his readers as one of the top seven theatrical releases of September 2016.

Over at RogerEbert.com, Simon Abrams gave the film a rating of 3.5 out of 4 stars. As Abrams writes, Demon ranks up there with The Witch and Babadook as one of the best recent horror films.

The New York Times published not one but two reviews of Demon. NYT’s film critic Andy Webster describes this film inspired by an old Jewish legend as having “a powerful undercurrent suggesting the feverish workings of a troubled yet brilliant mind.” NYT chief film critic Manohla Dargis finds Demon to be “a movie that raises light shivers by tapping into historical memory and employing some satisfying, bluntly old-fashioned screen magic.” According to Dargis, the director “is very good at thickening the air with mystery,” while the expressive performance of lead actor Itay Tiran “has an acrobatic elasticity, with hints of Iggy Pop carnality and eyeball work indebted to Jack Nicholson.”

Horror and Satire

Many reviewers, including IndieWire’s Kim Myers, note the comedic skills of Polish actors, including Andrzej Grabowski who played the father of the bride. Myers writes that Demon is “an unsettling, oddly funny film with more to say than either the average horror film or comedy.”

Michel Roffman of Consequence of Sound stresses the film’s visual aesthetic, while also noting that Demon is “a smarter, more elegant brand of horror” than most films in the genre. The comedic elements of Demon are also emphasised by film critics Charles Bramesco and David Fear, reviewers for Rolling Stone, called the film “a sharp social satire on modern-day Eastern Europe and an all-out amazing blend of comedy and tragedy.”

In her review, Katie Rifie of A.V. Club notes that Marcin Wrona’s latest picture is “a film where refusing to confront the past leads to the past coming back to confront us.” Rifie takes note of the film’s “stunningly executed set pieces” that allow audiences to experience “the mad swirl of a Polish wedding [and] the dark revelations taking place just offstage.”

Ezra Glinter (Forward.com) writes that in addition to its historical references, Demon is first and foremost “a work of beauty, with its visual palette creating a stark contrast between the luminous, white-and-gold of the wedding and the stormy night outside.”

“History, as James Joyce put it, is a nightmare from which we’re all trying to awake. In Demon, that nightmare is all too real,” writes Glinter.

Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times calls Demon a skillful adaptation of Piotr Rowicki’s stage play “Adherence” and places the film alongside such masterpieces as Thomas Vinterberg’s Festen and Lars von Trier’s Melancholia. Chang also writes that Demon isn’t so much a story about the artist’s inclination towards darkness, as much as it is “a bravura testament to a talent silenced far too soon.”

Marta Sikorska

Translated by Karolina Kołtun