Demonlover

I was trying to think of an appropriately Halloween-y movie to review when I happened to see a movie called Demonlover in my Netflix queue. I remembered being interested in the movie because I'd read a review of it in the AV Club's New Cult Canon, but I didn't remember anything else about the movie beyond that. But what the hell, if a movie about fornicating with hellspawn isn't perfect for Halloween then what is?

Demonlover opens with two business-y people talking about contracts on a plane. Before you know it, someone injects a drug into the business-y lady's drink when she isn't looking, and by the time they land she's feeling pretty woozy. Right before she collapses in the middle of the airport two shady looking dudes appear out of nowhere and drag her into an elevator. I'm thinking she's going to be kidnapped by a cult and impregnated with Satan-spawn, but the fact that these shady dudes seem to be mainly interested in cutting the chain that's attaching her briefcase to her wrist is a bad sign to me. Generally speaking, briefcases aren't necessary for trysts with Satan.

Cut to: the business-y lady has been rescued from the trunk of her car after thirteen hours and taken to a hospital to recuperate. The timeline is a little short for a real Rosemary's Baby type deal, but it's not impossible at this point. Another lady comes in and it is established that the new lady is going to take over the first lady's corporate caseload, because the company doesn't want to delay the big merger. So maybe this new lady is the one who has a fetish for Satan?

And then the next half hour is spent showing how the new lady navigates complicated corporate negotiations.

The longer we spent in office buildings, the more I was getting the sinking feeling that this was maybe not going to be the Halloween-y movie I was hoping for. It really sunk in that there wasn't going to be any sweet demon-loving action in this movie when I found out what "Demonlover" referred to. It's the name of an anime, and that the big corporate deal everyone was talking about concerned the distribution rights of a Japanese animation studio's pornographic movies in Europe. The characters were all involved in promoting a website called "demonlover" and they were probably not going to make sweet love to demons themselves.

Watching Demonlover can be immensely frustrating for plot-related reasons, but also because trying to understand its characters can be like grasping sand as it slips through your fingers.
— From the original review that made me want to see this

Halfway through I had to stop and re-read the review that brought this movie to my attention. Every movie in the New Cult Canon is something that would inspire a passionate response in some small group of people, and even leaving aside the fact that this movie wasn't what I expected it to be, I just didn't see how anyone could be interested in this movie; it was both slow and obscure, which is a deadly combination. And sure enough, as I was going through the original article I kept seeing red-flags that should have kept me from adding it to my queue. Phrases like "immensely frustrating" are not generally good in a recommendation, even if they are balanced out by other more positive sentiments.

The action does pick up in the second half, but at that point I was just done. Even if I was the sort of person who appreciated texture as much as plot, Demonlover would be a hard sell, because the whole thing kept reminding me of a Simpsons joke. There's a scene where Bart and his friends are all excited to use their fake I.D.s to sneak into their first R-rated movie, and after they leave Naked Lunch Nelson turns to the marquee and says "I can think of at least two things wrong with that title." Even if Demonlover had been an interesting movie, it would still have at least two things wrong with it's title, and that's two things too many.

Winner: The Cat

Demonlover on IMDB