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International political intrigue always gets me, and it’s always vague enough to keep me interested, while at the same time reminding me of the way in which organizations are commonly viewed. They’re big, they’re shady, and they’re not very nice to each other. Especially when the hentai industry is vying for control over interactive game publishing. That industry is one many gamers are familiar with because of games like RapeLay in which players are able to defile virtual women. It’s yet another of the intriguing results we see from time to time of our so-called modern society.

In Demonlover this stuff is in its prime, about to be handed off to Diane’s organization. A common concept in Demonlover is her lack of reaction to nearly everything she sees.

Diane sits on a couch with her arms crossed.

Desensitization is definitely not a new idea, but with increasingly violent and sexual content throughout our common media there is always room for a bit more discussion. When we see our characters not reacting to graphic hentai material, explosions and violence on televisions, and even each other, the point is heavy-handed but clear. Pornography’s journey into increasingly violent content could be a result of the imagery and concepts that are presented to us every day.

Televisions on an airplane.

Something that Demonlover isn’t going to show are the people who get more than a raise of the eyebrow from the violent content that is being produced both on and off the books (in addition to the hentai scene, Demonlover brings an underground torture-porn site with kidnapped civilians into play, where users describe fantasies that are then implemented with the victims). The reason that people watch such material is discussed briefly between characters, but the main question that is risen is not that of character desires, but that of their environment. The portrayal is increasingly extreme as the film progresses. Violence in music, television, and video games is covered, and for every one there is someone with a blank look taking it in.

A naked woman lies on her stomach playing video games.

The film’s structure has two main pieces as I see it; the main turning point occurs around halfway in, when Diane signs a vague contract that I understood as her character giving up. She had been through a lot already, including questioning her own reality and whether events truly happened. I’m still not sure if it was clear what she actually agreed to, but murder and other strange actions happen shortly after that are potentially involved. In a critical moment, Diane commits an act of violence and shrieks, one of her few drastic actions throughout the film. What it said to me is that Demonlover offers a clear distinction between first-hand violence and violence in media, although I can see where it might have been blaming media for the occurrence. I don’t want to think that’s the case, but as I said it’s an extreme movie that doesn’t hesitate to be heavy-handed, especially as the plot becomes a little less interesting and a little more silly toward the end. Some of the end moments during Diane’s distress were a little forced. It was as if the film’s last image had been clearly defined without a satisfying way to get there.

A piece of paper held in a hand that says "You forgot something."

There’s a lot of good imagery in Demonlover, especially of activities that humans participate in with their hands, which is covered so often as to appear an obsession. Perhaps it’s because many of the important actions taken during the film involve our hands, the tools that draw hentai, model 3D women and code their systems, change the channel to an adult film, sign paperwork, light cigarettes, and torture and kill. It’s also one of the only areas in which observable traits are left to be found, as faces are blank and unwelcoming.

A hand holding a TV remote.

For me, one of the lasting intrigues of the film was the suggestion of well-hidden illegal activities on the internet. I forget from time to time that they exist, but every once in a while you’ll hear of child pornography rings being discovered. Obviously some of those types of communities will slip up due to a lack of technical prowess, but it’s certain there are more communities who are more careful, who participate in similar activities to those shown in the later moments of Demonlover, when the Hellfire Club is mentioned.

A picture that says "Hell Fire Club."

I wouldn’t say that it’s fantastic, but there is a lot of great imagery and some interesting concepts and intrigue. Things take a dive as the film progresses which is unfortunate, but overall it’s the best I’ve seen the subject material handled, even if more blunt than I would have liked.

A women in a black suit sits on a metal bed frame.

Two people's reflections in a window.

Rating: Worth Seeing