Eric Power’s Attack of The Demons features a charming and impressive cut-paper animation style, with remarkably expressive characters and brilliantly-crafted effects, but I’m not sure how the script will connect with most audiences. The combination of the unique, handmade aesthetic and the fairly simplistic, somewhat deadpan, and often juvenile dialogue seems like it would appeal more to a far younger audience than it’s targeted to. It’s not South Park edgy or – depending on your opinion of Matt Stone and Trey Parker – particularly clever, but that seems like the tone that Power and writer Andreas Petersen are going for, right down to the Colorado setting.
It’s 1994 and metalheads from around the country are converging on Barrington, Colorado for their annual Halloween music festival. As the town braces for an influx of tourists, a shadowy-robed figure begins lurking around the town, preying on the townspeople in bloody fashion. We’re introduced to Kevin, a bored kid from Barrington who strikes up a friendship with Jeff, his former classmate that’s supposed to be staying with his weird uncle up in the mountains. We also meet Natalie, who’s attending the music festival with her music journalist/snob boyfriend, Chet, that’s constantly talking down to her.
As the demon plague (they act more like zombies than demons) begins to overtake the town, it falls on the trio, as well as the aforementioned weird uncle, to take them down. A battle ensues that, like everything else in the film, is beautifully rendered but ultimately feels hollow and, unfortunately, tiresome.
The real star of Attack of the Demons is Power’s signature paper animation, which renders each scene with such precision, personality, and charm that it’s hard to look past. Whatever criticisms I have of the scripting in the film, there’s no doubt that a ton of hard work went into animating the story, and it shows. The movement of the characters, in particular, is something special, and I can only imagine how tough it must be to bring each scene to life in the way that Power’s managed to do. There’s not likely to be a more difficult mode to work in to animate something like this, besides possibly Claymation, but Power’s skill and experience (he’s done one film, the samurai story, Path of Blood, and several music videos in the medium) as well as his passion for the style, comes through in every frame.
Attack of the Demons will coast a bit on what is truly a great visual medium, but the script and story fall flat to me. Any life given to the characters and the story come from Power’s living collages, not through the dialogue and whatever mythology is being cultivated. And that’s commendable, when it’d be a lot easier to ‘tell’ rather than ‘show.’ Power has shown a lot of growth as a director and animator since Path of Blood and his music video stuff, and his potential as a filmmaker is clear. I just hope he can find the right script and story to live up to his talents.