The worlds of humans and demons are closer than you think, at least so Fire City: End of Days would have you think. In the film, directed by former special effects and make up designer Tom Woodruff Jnr, humans and demons live cheek by jowl in the same apartment block – the people completely unaware of the demonic goings on taking place next door.
There’s something inherently amusing about watching a demon in a trench coat sending a message on his smartphone. It’s an idea the TV series Buffy The Vampire Slayer played to with great effect; the demons of Sunnydale seen bored during the day, watching daytime TV. In Buffy of course the demons didn’t hide their appearance, but that’s what happens here. Humans can’t see a demon’s true appearance unless the demon cuts them, which raises interesting issue about paper cuts from letters sent from the dark realm which aren’t addressed here.
Tobias Jelinek plays Vine, a grumpy hard-boiled demon who constantly speaks in a voice a little too gruff to be taken seriously, especially when in his human form. He is a delivery man, or rather demon, for the people living in his block – passing on the human misery which sustains their lifestyle. There is a curious balance between the two species – the one keeps the other alive, things balanced on a spectral knife edge.
When Vine helps a young girl in danger (Keely Aloña) a dark and mysterious figure is conjured into the world. This figure begins to physically attack all the demons around him, and seemingly resetting the universe so all the humans in the building are suddenly happy. That happiness causes the demons to starve. At the centre of the mystery Vine must track down its cause and act before the world begins to crumble. The world has been unbalanced and Vine must find out how and why.
Fire City: End of Days, for a low budget horror movie, is far more inventive than the usual fare. Certainly there are monsters and blood and gore and shocks, but the storyline is something new. There is an internal logic which carries the narrative and the final moments make everything slot into place, despite the confusion which the earlier moments may create. It certainly makes sense to pay very close attention, in case you miss anything important because it is, on occassion, pretty baffling.
Some of the performances are a little overwrought, and moments of female nudity which seem to have been thrown in for no real reason. The lighting and special effects are for the most part very artfully done and the pace rattles along whether you are baffled by proceedings are paying close attention. The plot is twisty and strange and the new mythology being created by writers Michael Hayes and Brian Lubocki gives us the sense that there is more to come from this universe. The “End of Days” subtitle seems to suggest so too.
Whether or not this will be for you will probably rely on your opinion of low budget horror, and although it’s not entirely successful Fire City: End of Days does at least try to do something new.
Fire City: End of Days is out on DVD now.