Writer-director-actor Miles Doleac's new film, "Demons," is similar to his last effort, "The Hollow" — an at-times-untenable fusion of literary pretension and pulp clichés. The ambitious auteur is getting better at making his novelistic ideas punchy and cinematic, but "Demons" is still a B-movie that takes itself too seriously.
Doleac plays Colin Hampstead, a former Catholic priest who has a life-changing experience while performing an exorcism on a teenager in trouble. After the rite goes awry, Colin ditches his collar, marries the subject's sister Kayleigh (Lindsay Anne Williams), and starts writing best-selling books about the occult.
"Demons" employs an unnecessary flashback structure, trickling out the details of Colin and Kayleigh's past in grainy clips that pop up periodically. Most of the movie is set in the present day, as the Hampsteads prepare to host a wedding at their lush Savannah, Ga., estate for their free-spirited friends Eddie (Steven Brand) and Lara (Kristina Emerson).
Doleac's heart seems to be more in the "old pals hanging out" scenes than in what happens later in the gathering — where Kayleigh is haunted by her past, and the supernaturally empathic Lara helps her through it. The ghosts, psychics and spiritual intervention material comes off as pretty stale.
Still, Doleac's forging a niche. His name on a picture is now an indication that genre fans will see something different … though it's not yet a mark of quality.
Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Playing: Ahrya Fine Arts, Beverly Hills