“Demon of War” has a promising setup but swiftly turns ridiculous, though I hope at least some of it is true.
This recap of Haunted Season 2, Episode 5, “Demon of War”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
If there’s one episode of this ridiculous show that I really hope is true, it’s “Demon of War”. And I don’t mean the glowy-eyed Afghan demon that looks like Abe from the PSX game, obviously — that’s clearly nonsense. But I hope, sincerely, that a real U.S. Marine really went to Afghanistan and at the very least believed he met a demon there. Remember that however much people may know these kinds of shows are packed with lies, these stories are presented as being real, first-hand accounts. They claim to be true. And as anyone who has ever watched a Stolen Valor compilation on YouTube knows, you can’t make false claims about the Armed Forces.
Me, I’m not well-versed enough in American military jargon and protocol and such to be able to say one way or another. Rick, the narrator of Haunted Season 2, Episode 5, claims to be a Marine from a family of fighting men — his great-grandfather fought in the First World War, his grandfather in the second, his beloved father in Vietnam — and I have no reason not to believe him. He’s convincing enough. But he also claims that while he was deployed in Afghanistan he was choke-slammed by a demon that had presumably arisen from a Taliban grave, so you have to take things with a pinch of salt.
Lots of “Demon of War” keeps the supernaturalism at a minimum. It’s about the horrors of war and does a decent job with recreation scenes ostensibly set overseas. When it’s making this point, it’s perfectly watchable. Where it veers off-course is when Rick is positioned as a lookout over a Taliban graveyard and things start getting weird. All the expected visual tricks are deployed — night-vision, the burning red light of a flare. But the demon is so poorly rendered that for all the seriousness of Rick’s recollections, you can’t help but giggle.
Rick, however, isn’t giggling. Neither are his family members or his Staff Sergeant, who all believe him unequivocally. The only person he never told about the experience, it seems, was his father, who died a few weeks prior to the recording. Now Rick has decided to re-enlist. And to re-deploy to Afghanistan. In what he perceives as a warning, the demon showed itself to him again. When he gets out there, he reckons it’ll be waiting for him.
Or, you know… perhaps it won’t.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.