Whether an artistically legitimate genre or not, I've never felt that horror deserves the bad rap it gets. However, I've been wrong about a lot of things. As bad as if a college student threw the infamous Shannon Elizabeth webcam scene from American Pie into a blender and then dumped a whole lot of voyeurism horror (think Halloween: Resurrection) on top of it, Death on Demand is cheap, independent horror that manages to be watchable (barely) but little else.
The movie begins with the flashback of the night Sean McIntyre (Jerry Broome) went crazy. An ice climber who lost his mind while on top of a mountain, he graphically slaughters his whole family in their house and then kills himself. Fast forward to the present, and rich kid Rich (Dan Falcone) is trying to cash in by hosting a reality show-sort of webcam broadcast for college students from the McIntyre house. Five local college kids interested in the $5,000 prize money for staying the whole night in the haunted house and solving Rich's treasure hunt have signed up, as well as one contrived porn star (Krista Grotte) to spice up the webcast. They start the night with a séance led by Darla (Elisabeth Jamison), our main character, who realizes too late that her meddling has actually summoned back the tangible spirit of Sean. The college antics ensue, followed by a lot of killing.
Unimpressive as it is overall, Death on Demand certainly has some amazing gore. That's right, horror nerds, perk your ears...err, eyes up.) Entrails get spilled from guts, tendons get pulled out of legs, and guys puke all over the place when they see their dead girlfriends. There is one kill that is so ridiculous, I won't spoil it here, but I will warn all the males to be ready to cringe. There are a couple of genuine shock scares, when the editing suddenly explodes and the soundtrack intensifies, but since you're still reading this, I'm assuming you're desensitized enough to horror films to be able to handle the scariness of this film.
The writing is pretty bad in this film, but the good news is that the performances match it. The jackass college males aren't actually funny at all, and the drama is equally unbelievable (most of these performers are amatuers). Some of the cast really didn't seem to take their roles seriously, but I can appreciate the efforts of others.
It's hard to take the movie seriously when you can see that the McIntyre home is in the suburbs of Everytown, USA during the establishing exterior shots. The movie was, in fact, shot in Peekskill, NY, but for some reason the city of Peekskill isn't advertsing this fact all over their official website. I don't understand. In any case, the house doesn't really look that creepy, and the neighboring house, which looks completely normal and middle class, appears to be about SIX FEET AWAY. It is completely unbelievable that no one in the neighborhood would have called the cops by the midway point in the movie.
I'm going to be honest: this is a movie that you simply want to be over by the time you're two thirds of the way through it.
I watched a preview DVD of Death on Demand, and it only had a trailer for its special features. Even though it didn't come in a commercial case, I suspect it was the same disc you'd get if you bought the DVD. However, THERE WERE NO CHAPTER SEPERATIONS on this disc during the film, which would be a huge no-no if it carried over onto the commercial version.
Surprisingly, the preview DVD I watched contained an enhanced version of the film that fit my 16x9 TV perfectly because the film was shot in 1.78:1. The video quality was actually pretty good, about as good a recreation of mini DV, as the movie appeared to have been shot on, as you're going to get. But that doesn't say too much; it feels as though you're watching home video when you watch this disc.
The audio only consists of English 2.0. This certainly isn't worth pulling out the old surround sound for, but it passes muster for such a cheap movie. The mix could have been a little better, with the dialogue not being quite loud enough at times, but during some moments of intensity, things get extremely loud, which is surprisingly effective. Ahh, mediocrity.
The Special Feature
The only special feature on the disc was a trailer for Death on Demand. I suspect that very few more would be added to the commercial release of the DVD, but maybe they would record a commentary with director David Matalon or something. I'm going to give this disc a one star rating for extras, but keep in mind that it would earn more if the commercial release had more on it.
Only bother with this DVD if you really like bad horror or if you really appreciate sophomoric filmmaking efforts of people with little money. I can't recommend spending money on it, but maybe you can talk your little brother into buying it online or something. The gore is extreme, so Death on Demand might do it for you in that way. Personally, I have no qualms about giving this one a "Skip It."