It would be easy to write off Demons Never Die as just yet another teen slasher flick, British accents be damned, and such a generic description would not be inaccurate at all, for this is indeed a horror whodunit in the Scream mold, with various attractive teens being bumped off by a masked murderer. But even if he doesn't exactly stray from the formula paces, writer/director Arjun Rose recognizes that the overly familiar can make for an entertaining ride all the same with the right amount of slick style and intelligent inspiration.
In the latter category falls the film's central conceit, which was best summed up by the film's original title, Suicide Kids. The group targeted by the killer (Robert Sheehan, Jennie Jacques, Emma Rigby, Femi Oyeniran, Shanika Warren-Markland, Jason Maza, and Jacob Anderson) is no typical teen clique but a group that has made a suicide pact, and Rose offers a more honest and real look at the behavioral mindset of someone in that space. Now past the point of outwardly depressive behavior that is the typical attention-seeking "cry for help," they've moved to the zombie-esque, outwardly functioning, going through the motions behavior, grappling with the demons in internally while externally behaving like what others "want" and "expect" once said cries go unnoticed much less unanswered. If the group can be further be broken down to the assorted expected "types" one finds in these films (e.g., broody Sheehan, goth girl Jacques, glam girl Rigby, wisecracker Maza), that core unifying despair for most of the group (in a believable touch, some are part of the group out of less concrete and sincere motivations) does ring true--not to mention makes the horror-formula disbelief at the notion of a serial killer easier to swallow, for it also casts believable suspicion within those in the group, everyone knowing too well each other's demons.
But let it be known that this is, in the end, of course meant to not be anything deep but an entertaining thrill ride, and Rose does deliver where it matters most in high style. Not only does he keep the proceedings visually interesting, he does so in a manner that efficiently serves and enhances the story, from the slick extended opening shot that swiftly introduces the canvas of characters and their portrayers to a cleverly cut video chat sequence that dispenses a lot of necessary exposition in a brisk and cinematically engaging manner to a narratively justified switch to the faux found footage style that's all the current genre rage for the climax. He also has at his disposable a capable, likable cast in the fresh faces playing the youths (Maza makes the most of his movie stealing role as the wisecracking loose cannon of the lot, and Sheehan and Jacques share a nice rapport as the more prominent of the protagonists) and more seasoned players (such as Ashley Walters as one of the lead cops).
Conventional teen slasher films never die, and admittedly so goes Demons Never Die and its familiar paces. However, if Rose is able to spin such a programmatic genre piece into something if not entirely fresh but certainly enjoyable with some distinct flavor, I look forward to seeing what else he has up his sleeve for future films.