The Irrefutable Truth About Demons (2000)

A ScaryMinds Event Movie

Director Glenn Standring
Writers Glenn Standring
Starring Karl Urban, Katie Wolfe, Jonathon Hendry, Sally Stockwell, Tony MacIver
Genre Demon
Tagline What will iot take to make you believe

The Irrefutable Truth About Demons marks the debut of kiwi film maker Glenn Standring. Based on the evidence presented in this, his first movie, Standring could very well be New Zealand's next Peter Jackson, albeit Standring is more apt to make use of cockroaches to gross out rather than the out and out gore Peter Jackson threw on for [i]Bad Taste[/i]. The one thing Standring can claim is that he had Karl Urban take a face full of roaches, now that's not something you see every day, and hey PJ hasn't got it on his resume. Let's go exorcise us some demons.

Talk us through it

Harry Ballard is not only an anthropologist but he also does some cult busting on the side; outing people claiming to have occult powers and such. Naturally this isn't going to make friends and influence people in satanic circles, and Harry receives a video tape and a warning that a "dark lodge" is out to get him. Apparently if you are into denouncing the disciples of ultimate evil you get quite a few warnings from crack pots, so called sorcerers, and young liberals. Harry disregards the tape and warning as being of no importance.

Later that night, this dude apparently works late at the University Anthropology department; Harry gets waylaid by some freaks, is drugged, and then abducted. The freaks are members of a cult run by the evil Le Valliant. Harry manages to escape but the cult isn't finished with. Harry will receive help from the mentally unstable Benny, and a surprise source. However he will be betrayed by someone very close to him. Is this all a product of Harry's imagination due to guilt over the death of his younger brother Richard and a whole bunch of drugs, or do demons exist? Can Harry form an answer before he loses both his soul and his life.

Ready to face deepest, darkest, Wellington?


Director Standring starts his movie with a familiar horror scene. We get the view point of someone or something moving stealthy through the stacks in the bowels of some unknown building. Standring throws various images at the screen, what appears to be a marsupial foetus in a preserving jar, a human skeleton, and various figurines. Before showing the target of the stalker we are sharing a POV with, a man is deeply engrossed in something. During this scene the score kicks in with plenty of demonic stylings and slightly off note sounds. The audience are expecting anything and yet nothing, if they are of the current cynical generation. Standring resolves things to being Johnny playing a prank on his mentor Harry Ballard in a sudden shock to finish the scene. While the scene didn't work for me in a "jump out of my seat" fashion the Director was aiming for, I was still grooving with the fission Standring has happening. The Director captures the aloneness of Harry in a dusty dimly lit maze of a room. Right from this opening scene we know we are in good hands and have a Director who knows his genre and more importantly how to construct a movie. Standring doesn't let us down from here on right through the closing credits.

The other thing to take from the opening scene is the absence of colour. The background, props, and clothes of the two actors are all washed in non-descript greys and browns. Standring will keep up on the lack of colour right through the movie, only taking time out of his motel room decoy to add splashes of red in the form of spilled blood. The night time scenes were all actually filmed at night in Wellington, and unfortunately in terms of a couple of jokes I had lined up the wetness is due to the crew hosing down the sets to get a sort of gleaming look happening. I'm not ready to call a M. Night Shyamalan control of the use of colour pallets in scenes just yet, I will need to see a few more movies from Standring first, but it's certainly looking at this stage that we have a Director aware of all aspects of movie making and how a frame can affect an audience via the simple things. Might be reading a bit much in here, but for sure I'm now excited about what the Director might do next.

Standring has this puppy on a leash and has the movie moving to the pace he's dictating. The action scenes are fast and furious while the Director takes time out of his hectic pace to allow full development of the expose scenes. One of the aspects I did like about Irrefutable Proof was Standring building up his shock scenes, there is none of that Yank style sudden shock going down beyond the first scene instead there is a decent use of tension in the movie. Sure the cult members look like extras from a Billy Idol clip but Standring knows when to use them to achieve good shock value.

Standring relies on setting up scenes to get his chills and thrills on, and dispense with "jump into frame" effects.

Possibly of even greater importance to the enjoyment of the movie is the development of Harry's knowledge about what happened to his brother, the entire movie pretty much happens on a single night and our Anthropology Professor is in for a few truths he may not have expected to learn. Standring doles out the information sparingly but regularly and we learn just what did happen at the same time as Harry. An interesting technique and once again something Hollywood horror has lost the ability to utilise, though admittedly their Thriller film makers still use the technique. I appreciated the whole Richard thing as so many horror movies recently simply throw on gore and forget about telling us a story and forcing us to follow the dialogue. Horror movie making has indeed become lazy recently and Standring shows at least some film makers are prepared to craft their movies rather than simply throw them on the screen in a blaze of special effects.

One of the aspects of Irrefutable Proof I simply didn't get was the cockroach motif used throughout the movie. Apparently Wellington is overrun by the buggers, and no we are not talking Politicians and Civil Servants here, but exactly why Standring kept referencing the insects escaped me. I was thinking at one stage urban decay, the Director isn't going to be invited to lunch with the Wellington Tourist Board anytime soon, but then couldn't complete the thought and make it stick to the overall look and feel of the movie. Maybe Standring just figured they were good for a gross out and was prefacing Mr Urban's meeting with the beasties.

Once again I'm sprinting past the site's preferred word count for a review, 1,200 for those interested, so will simply give my view of that final part of the movie that is causing a lot of debate on the interweb. Please note big spoilers ahead, so if planning to catch the movie skip to the next paragraph. Okay so Harry has new found powers, acquired via his final confrontation with La Valliant, demonstrated via his bringing the weta back to life in the garden. His ex girlfriend Celia in her legal role manages to gain access to him and is excited by the whole power thing. When Harry rejects her she lets loose with the biggest bombshell of the movie, and I really should have seen that one coming to be honest. Harry tells Bennie that the weta can tell stories from long ago, or words to that affect and remembering wetas have been around since the age of dinosaurs that's one heck of a long time to learn stuff, and sing love songs. Bennie listens to the weta and then whispers something to Harry. I'm thinking the final scene in Celia's car is all weta driven mayhem folks.

Karl Urban (Harry) is spot on for the role of a slightly world weary professor who has lost his brother. Urban makes the role his own, commands your attention, and did in fact launch a career from this movie. Katie Wolfe (Bennie) was equally well cast as the slightly deranged ex cult member and added some excellent touches to her character. Jonathon Hendry (Le Valliant) sort of worked more as a caricature of his role to be honest, Hendry delivers a slightly too camp take on the cult leader for mine. Sally Stockwell (Celia) was blond, nice to look at, and was readily believable as a conniving cow. Hopefully I can get on her Christmas card list for this year. And finally Tony MacIver (Johnny) simply played it manic, was sorry he had an early exit to be honest.

T&A is going down for everyone here. Gals get Karl showing off the gym work, needed a bit more work on the old puku there mate, and Guys get a quick flash of Katie Wolfe's dirty pillows.

Victoria Kelly and Joost Langeveld provided an excellent score that had me wanting to go out and score the CD. Nice acoustics, good use of techno, and Langeveld's electronic stuff really is excellent.

Summary Execution

I had a lot of fun with Irrefutable Proof and was pleased to run across a dark genre flick where the movie maker is not only trying to get under your skin but has a story to tell as well. Standring uses everything available to him to deliver a solid debut feature that should herald in a major new Down Under talent, assuming he doesn't switch to main stream movie making first. Best movie of the weekend out of the four I watched, will have a repeat viewing when the house is as quiet as a mouse.

I managed to score a R4 release down my local emporium but can't actually recall Standring's first movie making the cinema circuit. Since the movie was well received at film festivals I would assume it should be available in most regions. Ask your local DVD supplier if after a copy or try either eBay or Amazon over the net.

Good solid flick that should have most horror fans taking notice, excluding the rabid end of the fan boy crew. There's enough juice going down to make happy campers out of most of us and Standring does hit a homer with the odd scene or image lodging itself in your memory. Well recommended, find out the truth today folks!

ScaryMinds Rates this movie as ...

  Drop a night next weekend to catch this one, worth a look, and worth spendng repeat time with.