DEMON HUNTER falls prey to a lackluster script
Demon Hunter (2016)(a.k.a. Taryn Barker: Demon Hunter (2016)) begins with Taryn (Niamh Hogan), a post-punk demon hunter and brandishing a Katana sword, chasing, then beheading a man in an alley. Ethan (Kevin O’Malley), one of Taryn’s teammates, gives her a pep talk then they exit the alley, leaving evidence for Detective Beckett (Alan Talbot). Taryn is soon apprehended by police and brought in for questioning. A number of flashbacks re-tell Taryn’s past and what led her to became a demon hunter. The short version: Taryn was indirectly responsible for the abduction, rape, and murder of her younger sister, Annabelle (Aisli Moran). Taryn is recruited by a cult and granted the ability to hunt demons. In her re-telling, she recalls when Detective Beckett had promised her the killer would be captured, but the killer was never found. Later, following Taryn’s release, Detective Beckett’s daughter is kidnapped by a cult leader named Falstaff (Michael Parle). Falstaff claims to know who has taken Taryn’s sister, and a recovered bracelet with Annabelle inscribed on it inspires and motivates Taryn on her mission.
The trouble is, Taryn rarely encounters and battles demons. Much of the film is spent showing characters conversing, boasting, challenging, planning, reflecting, searching, and overacting with each other. Several slow motion shots, mixed with abrupt jump cuts, set to a techno-metal score, make it seem like Taryn is actively fighting, but it is in actuality a mix of mediocre choreography. The demonic characters either speak in generic ‘demon voice’, or are shown in simple prosthetic face makeup. One demon, with slightly more facial prosthesis than the rest, actually displays single long blades from his fists in a sort of ‘Wolverine-style’.
Even though Demon Hunter (2016) was shot in Ireland and America, it is presented in a ‘made-for-SyFy Channel’ style. It seems as if most of the budget was saved for the final act. This is director Zoe Kavanagh’s first feature film, and he has since gone on to direct two short films. Taryn narrates both the beginning and end of the film – perhaps with the hope for a sequel. Even with their additive of accented actors and the acceptable techno-metal score, this film is a bit of a snoozer. You may want to revisit Demon Knight (1995), The Evil Dead (1981), Night of the Demons (1988), Blade (1998), Lost Boys (1987), Fright Night (1985), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992), or any other film depicting the snuffing out of the supernatural before renting this one.