The research is there, certainly, but it is presented as if it were just that, without thought for the ways it could be presented in a more expressive form. There is a sense here that film is at most a communicative tool to simply transmit this information, rather than a way to enliven and reactivate new ways of thinking about this galvanizing figure’s past and the resonance of their work in our present. This is a shame. Murray deserves nothing less than a history in full color.
There is an urgency to these stylistic choices which ask us how we might best realize, through image and sound, both the memory and feeling of violence, of hope, of salvation for the damned. As in life, the grotesque and the beautiful exist concurrently and are each given fair weight.
In its attempts to revisit the original film’s discrepancies, DaCosta’s film ends up only retracing its narrative inconsistencies with full force and even deeper perplexity. Gone is the alluring entanglement of erotics and fright, replaced here by flat characters limply stumbling over a script intent on hitting us over the head with its social commentary.
Unfortunately, Demonic often lacks the substance and energy needed to back up its narrative originality and hybrid genre form. While it is refreshing to see the groundedness with which the director approaches his newest project, his larger-than-life ideas still seem to have trouble finding their exact footing.
As a filmmaker, Questlove utilizes his celebrity connections more than he does original directorial vision, trading instead in long-established, standard documentary structure and form. Summer of Soul is polished, but it pales in stark comparison to the raw footage and energy of the Harlem Cultural Festival.
One Night In Miami is an accomplishment relative to the standards of its industry, but for filmgoers seeking new and exciting work that exists outside of that orbit, King’s film is one that you’ve seen before.