Carly Pope Talks ‘Demonic’ And “Forward Thinking” Vision of Director Neill Blomkamp

Carly Pope previously worked with Blomkamp on "Elysium" and the Oats Studio short "Rikka"

Carly Pope, who worked with Neill Blomkamp on Elysium and his short Rakka, plays the lead his latest feature Demonic. Pope talked to Deepest Dream about what makes Blomkamp a unique filmmaker and why Demonic is more than just a horror film.
Carly Pope as ‘Carly’ in Neill Blomkamp’s DEMONIC. Courtesy of IFC Midnight. An IFC Midnight Release

Demonic centers on Carly (Carly Pope), a young woman who has dealt with her share of trauma. Estranged from her mother (Nathalie Boltt), she discovers a way to bridge that gap.

During our interview, Pope discussed her appreciation of director Neill Blomkamp’s “forward thinking” approach to cinema and storytelling.

I’m a huge fan of Neill Blomkamp’s work, and his movies often need a second viewing to truly appreciate all the narrative layers. He just seems to be a few steps ahead on a cinematic level.

Absolutely. I was a big fan of his from District 9 before I got to work with him on Elysium. I remember going to the theater to see District 9 and I was just sort of blown away. 

It was a very game changing film that really subverted the genre, and I really appreciated that.  

When I had the opportunity to work on Elysium, the same thing. These concepts are so interesting and so intricate and so involved and well honed in his mind. 

The next stage of that was doing these Oats Studios shorts with him which again were subverting genres, flipping the switch, experimenting. Tonally all over the place in a good way.

Slowly but surely, I had gotten to see and experience the depth of his willingness to try things and also how self-assured he was in his filming of wanting to pinpoint a concept and go for it. Or a technology for that matter. Or a theme. 

With Demonic, I knew that he was really interested and keen to use volume capture in a feature film setting. It was reverse engineered in a sense in trying to figure out a purpose and a setting that he can utilize that technology. 

In this case with Demonic of having it be inside the mother’s comatose mind, it was like a perfect application of it and it was really exciting to be a part of that.

I agree with you, he is very innovative and he is very forward thinking in terms of way things are going. It was a true pleasure to be amongst that.

Carly Pope as ‘Carly’ in Neill Blomkamp’s DEMONIC. Courtesy of IFC Midnight. An IFC Midnight Release

Though this film deals with demonic possession, it also explores the possibility of dealing through one’s trauma with the aid of technology.

That is the thing. When we first meet this character, she is having recurring nightmares. That is her subconscious. Her subconscious is obviously tortured and dark and tethered to something. We understand that it is this rift with her mother and this trauma that has happened in the past. 

To be able to utilize the technology, to go in and start to heal that was a really compelling idea to me. I’m a firm believer in order to start healing, we have to start surrendering. We have to be vulnerable in order get to the other side of it – to get to the lighter side of it. 

In terms of this character, she is so disconnected from everything and she has to connect to get there. In this case, with a technology.

It is a very jarring change. You’re going from an internal world to an exterior technology that pulls you out, but pulls you in to someone else’s mind. It’s a bit of a conundrum.

If this application were to be ever used to heal trauma and to help connect people, I’d like to see where it goes or if it’s successful.

Check out our Find Your Film podcast review of Demonic on the latest episode:

Thank you for your time Carly and I really loved Demonic! Also, that is a lovely piece of artwork on your wall!

Thank you. That’s a friend who drew it. It’s a beautiful piece. Lorien Haynes. She’s a fantastic artist.

DEMONIC BTS with Carly Pope and Neill Blomkamp. Courtesy of IFC Midnight. An IFC Midnight Release
Demonic is now out in theaters and available to rent everywhere via IFC Midnight. Check out my interview with Pope below and feel free to share your thoughts on the movie!

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