Body horror and dramatic flourishes don’t play together in The Demon Disorder: Gold Coast Film Festival Review

There’s a fascinating premise at its core and an impressive heft of body horror effects abounding throughout, but The Demon Disorder never quite conjures enough other-worldly strength to rise above its structural flaws.

A tale of three brothers and the demonic trauma they share off the back of their father’s death – presumably the result of an unexplained possession – Steven Boyle‘s fright flick aims for dramatic flourishes and a certain allegoric nature,  but the latter never feels quite as organically earned as was clearly intended.

Two of the brothers – older farmhand Jake (Dirk Hunter) and the youngest, Phillip (Charles Cottier) – live together in the very house their father, George (John Noble), psychologically perished.  His mental state deteriorated as he gave in to a demonic force that overtook his being.  The stress and laceration of such an event drove third sibling Graham (Christian Willis) away.

Working in his garage with his apprentice-of-sorts, Cole (Tobie Webster), Jake brings unwanted news that Phillip is similarly displaying traits of behaviour that their father expressed upon his possession.  Graham wants none of it, but upon visiting the family home, he witnesses Phillip’s behaviour for himself, and it becomes all too evident that whatever curse has been placed upon them has returned to crumble their bloodline further.

Ultimately culminating in an exciting-enough third act that delights in the physical possibilities of body horror effects, The Demon Disorder, at only 95 minutes, adheres to something of a slow burn mentality in the hopes of earning a more rousing pay-off.  There’s no denying that the effects in the final act are wildly impressive – even more so due to the film’s evident low budget – but it often feels as if writer/director Boyle banked so much on the appeal of these effects that we’d forgive the narrative’s other sins.

The gradual rise of dread is a temperament many a horror film adopts, and it’s a trait that suits The Demon Disorder overall, but the family dynamic between the brothers is never quite as dramatically affective as it should be.  Whether this is a lacking on Boyle’s script or that the performers here just aren’t as collectively strong, it sadly undoes much of its clear impact.

Whilst the acting and characterisation leaves something to be desired, when the film leans into its horror flourishes it’s difficult to reject The Demon Disorder‘s genre appeal.  The body horror on display is truly, grossly impressive, and it’s further assisted by the wise sense of humour at hand, which wisely never undercut the film’s dramatic intentions.


The Demon Disorder is screening as part of this year’s Gold Coast Film Festival, which is running between April 17th – 28th, 2024.

Peter Gray

Seasoned film critic. Gives a great interview. Penchant for horror. Unashamed fan of Michelle Pfeiffer and Jason Momoa.