In 2016's Video Killer urban paranoia loomed large among strange visions and spectral followers. The rather luridly titled The Demonic Tapes - a title which perhaps unfairly masks a much more subtle film than that - is also set in contemporary London, and was filmed very quickly over a three day period on a budget of about £400.
The Demonic Tapes is the supposedly true story of an unnamed man, staying alone in a north London house share in the days leading up to Christmas, who discovers a box of audio cassettes in the basement. These tapes record a series of sessions involving a medium and a former resident of the house. Our current resident listens to the tapes increasingly obsessively, and realises fairly quickly that the haunting documented on them - and the death of the medium on the tapes - has taken place in the same house in which he's currently living. As the cassettes' hold on him deepens, he starts to see and hear things in the rooms upstairs, suggesting that the demonic presence caught on tape may be back in the house.
|A nightmarish image from The Demonic Tapes|
"I feel like I'm listening to something I shouldn't be" says our doomed hero at one point (carefully underplayed by Darren Munn), and there's a palpable sense of unease generated by watching the man passively listening to the recording of a sustained haunting (complete with Ghostwatch style disturbing voices). Although largely unseen Alice Keedwell is also convincing as the voice of the medium on the tapes - she also plays her sister Sarah in a brief scene. Aided by an extremely atmospheric soundtrack by the enigmatically titled 'Pig 7' - with help from Mansfield and former Video Killer actor Victoria Falls - The Demonic Tapes creates what is becoming a trademark urban horror feel from the director, but with the 'onion skin' approach to storytelling adopted by M R James, to whom Mansfield remains indebted.
The Demonic Tapes is available to stream on Amazon Prime now.