“What if Amityville was a zany ’00s sitcom?” seems to be the concept underpinning Emily Hagins’ Shudder-backed latest. A demon-driven comedy of errors that pits a Pazuzu-style haunting against a corny How I Met Your Mother-esque relationship drama, and somehow expects the two to gel together. Naturally, they don’t. But while there is a lot of messy plotting and frustratingly broad humour here, there’s also a quiet charm to just how completely earnest the whole thing is.
Namely cute and cuddly leading man Will (Jon Michael Simpson), your classic sad-sack loser who after getting dumped by his girlfriend of five years, sleepwalks into the middle of a completely ridiculous situation – renting a suspiciously cheap and very obviously haunted house from a skeezy looking married couple. It’s a Homer Simpson move; a decision so glaringly stupid it’s almost enraging to watch, but one that’s made with such dough-eyed naivety, you can’t help but just go with it.
And this is the sort of logic Hagins builds the entire movie around; likably dim characters who wouldn’t be out of place in a failed ’00s network comedy, who don’t seem to hate the fact that they’re all somehow living out the plot of The Exorcist, cracking wise while battling for their mortal souls. Tonally, it’s a weirdly breezy watch, even with a velvet-tongued demon promising to drag them all to hell every five seconds.
Which is also really the biggest problem with Sorry About The Demon. In leaning so hard into that ‘pleasant’ (but dated) brand of sitcom humour, Hagins completely loses any sense of jeopardy and none of the occasional scares or general attempts at horror land at all. In fact, it’s so utterly devoid of tension on any level that it more often plays like an extended comedy sketch from a lower-rent version of Saturday Night Live.
Hagins’ background is seriously impressive, with multiple features under her belt before she was even old enough to drink. Here, once again she proves herself a dab hand at delivering sincere and amiable comedy, but the very basic shift towards horror doesn’t do anyone any favours. Genre fans will be bored by the lack of scares and tired demon tropes, and the rest is sweet but completely lacking in any sort of punch.
Sorry About the Demon screened as part of Arrow Video FrightFest 2022.