Pack your bags, folks, because this one’s a trip. The Demon’s Rook is here to whisk you away to the Dark Womb and then split your soul wide open. The film is a surreal homage to Italian gore and ’80s monster flicks that miraculously manages to be wholly original at the same time. It piggybacks on some well-respected genre traditions and molds them into something visionary and refreshing – all while having one helluva time doing it. Writer/director/effects wizard/star James Sizemore transports the audience back to the childhood days of running around with your buds, making homemade movies. The Demon’s Rook has that enthusiastic spirit of youth, but with more artistic ability and a serious knack for demonic imagery.
In a small rural town, young Roscoe spends his days goofing off in the yard with his friend Eva. This idyllic childhood is tucked away at night when Roscoe is visited by a demon, Dimwos, who tells Roscoe how special he is. The visits continue until one night, when Dimwos leads Roscoe into a shadowy, underground world where he is instructed in the ways of the dark arts. Although Dimwos is vague in his purpose, he clearly has a mission in mind for young Roscoe. Many years later, Roscoe flees the underground and in doing so, unknowingly leads evil right to earth’s door.
That’s the basic gist of the film, but it breaks off into a variety of bizarre twists and dark turns. Adult Roscoe resembles hobo Jesus and despite his lanky frame, he’s got some really nasty magic skills. Many of the other characters are introduced just so they can be slaughtered moments later, but at least they’re graphically killed with conviction. Honestly, the amazing practical effects and makeup work in this film puts most Hollywood CGI bullshit to shame. Sizemore, who is a visual artist in his spare time, has created some impressively detailed and badass creature designs. I haven’t seen a decent movie monster in a long time, and there are like three of them in Demon’s Rook. It’ll definitely leave you aching something fierce for the good old practical days.
There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on throughout the film, although it never truly delves into the mythology of the Dark Womb (the underworld) or its denizens. With a dreamlike film like this through, any shortcomings in story should be disregarded. Who gives a shit about narrative hiccups when a shirtless hobo is having a magic battle with a demon? The demons even talk in another language! I don’t know if it’s an actual language or was created for the film, but it sounds wicked cool (and don’t worry, it’s subtitled). Some of the zombie feast scenes drag on a little too long for my taste, but they nicely highlight the impressive gore. The original score is a marvel as well. It’s synth-heavy goodness that’s reminiscent of classic Carpenter music. There’s simply a lot to sink your teeth into in this film.
The Demon’s Rook was a labor of absolute love for Sizemore and his crew. And I’d say that devotion and sacrifice paid off. The film is relentlessly entertaining from beginning to end and is a demonic feast for genre fans. This one’s destined for midnight movie immortality, folks, so don’t miss it if it comes to your area.