Friday, October 30, 2020

Attack of the Demons: Animated Horror (Well Done)

Generation X always just wanted to get a job and mind their own business, but in 1994, they were graduating into a woefully stagnant job market. They had to be resourceful, so three Gen-X-ers might be the perfect candidates to foil a demon apocalypse (like a zombie apocalypse, but more demonic). The chaos will be wildly over-the-top and also animated in director-animator Eric Powers’ Attack of the Demons, which opens virtually today, ahead of its regular VOD release on Tuesday.

It is Halloween season, when the sleepy mountain town of Barrington, Colorado holds it is annual trendy music festival. Kevin, Jeff, and Natalie haven’t seen each other since high school and they really talked much then. Yet, they are all pretty cool with it when they cross paths amid the festival crush. Kevin is a townie cineaste, who never left Barrington, Jeff is lone-wolf old-school video game enthusiast, who has been reluctantly dispatched to visit his survivalist uncle. As for Natalie, she is attending the fest with her dismissive hipster music journalist boyfriend, but she wants to check out all the genuinely talented act he is too cool to cover.

Just when they feel comfortable hanging, the demons attack. They infect their victims like zombies, but they have an ancient evil origin, according to Stuart Combs, the anointed savior, who conveniently pops up. Of course, when the chips are down, it will be up to the three friends (which they are, by this point) to save the world.

With the mountain village setting and the occasional gross-out humor,
Attack of the Demons is sure to inspire South Park comparisons. While its true fans of the iconoclastic show should also dig Attack, Powers’ paper-cut animation is actually much more accomplished. Frankly, his knack for rendering gory effects with the medium is quite impressive.

However, the best part of the film is the camaraderie of the three high school alumni. There are times when the film’s vibe is like what you feel when you attend an old school friend’s wedding and hang-out with their mutual friends, who really didn’t know back-in-the-day, but you find they’re totally cool and compatible. Yeah, it’s like that.

The point is, you will root for these paper-crafted characters. In fact, their personalities are more “life-like” than the characters of recent somewhat “high-profile” animated films, like
Children of the Sea, To Your Last Death, Abominable, and Promare. Screenwriter Andreas Petersen gives them snappy, realistic dialogue, which he a fellow voice-thesps Thomas Petersen and Katie Maguire perform with energy and attitude.

Yet, Powers stays true to the horror tradition (indeed, there are hat-tips to the genre throughout the film). Arguably, his animation techniques are probably the best means of rendering Petersen’s outrageously crazy climax (which CGI could never do justice). There is some serious movie-love in
Attack that definitely generates good karma. Jolly good nostalgic fun, Attack of the Demons releases virtually today (10/30) and via regular VOD platforms on Tuesday (11/3), the day of horror.