Directed by: Jared Cohn
Run time: 93 minutes
The Lowdown: Devil’s Domain is a prime example of how critical an editor’s job is to the overall moviemaking experience.
What begins as an indictment of teenage bullying and the troubling influence of social media on high school campuses quickly transforms into the tale of a young girl struggling to prevent being used by demonic forces as the ultimate vessel of evil, a la #lucifersbaby.
But whoa, just trying to figure out even that brief synopsis takes a lot more effort than most genre fans might be willing to give to a low-budget, indie horror film.
Writer-director Jared Cohn stuffs a lot of influences and imagery into Devil’s Domain, but the moments that work best, and the brief flashes of impressive practical effects, get overshadowed by a dizzying array of subplots and fantasy elements that aren’t properly explained or executed.
And that’s why the film needed a much better editor to help sharpen the key elements and trim off the excess flourishes to deliver a much leaner, more vicious movie.
Cohn – a prolific director with 10 film credits to his name since 2015 – simply can’t focus Devil’s Domain despite several truly interesting ideas, namely that the Devil would use social media to solicit willing souls to further his evil campaign.
That idea alone is enough to fuel an entire feature, and Cohn does do a good job of showing how apathetic and disconnected today’s teens are when it comes to violence, mockery and disdain for the value of human life.
But he lacks the subtlety and precision to truly elevate key moments, such as when his protagonist Lisa (a game and capable Madi Vodane) responds to a mysterious Facebook message and agrees to meet a sympathetic stranger who wants to help her overcome the bullying torment she has endured.
Within seconds of agreeing to meet, a car appears outside Lisa’s house to transport her to a lush and decadent fetish club where patrons can indulge in all manners of carnal fulfillment. The stranger, Destiny (the gorgeous French scream queen, Linda Bella), eventually shows her true self in one of the standout reveals in Devil’s Domain. Her demonic visage is both alluring and alarmingly terrifying, and it’s one of the effects highlights of the entire film, along with two above-average death scenes.
Ultimately, Devil’s Domain frustrates as much as it entertains, but it is a noticeable improvement in both quality and execution over some of Cohn’s other recent works, namely 2016’s Little Dead Rotting Hood.
The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – Linda Bella is smoking hot as the devil in disguise.
Nudity – Yes.
Gore – Considerable.
Drug use – Yes.
Bad Guys/Killers – The Devil, duh.
Buy/Rent – Rent it.
The Fate of the Furious (Universal, 136 minutes, PG-13, Blu-Ray): The eighth film in the unstoppable The Fast and the Furious franchise roars onto home media in an overstuffed edition that rivals the film itself for pure excess.
After 16 years, and countless jaw-dropping moments of ridiculous suspended-belief throughout the series, The Fate of the Furious somehow ups its ante with muscle cars taking on a nuclear submarine and a deliriously brutal hand-to-hand battle at 30,000 feet between Jason Statham (with a baby strapped to his chest) and a cabal of trained assassins.
If you’re a longtime fan, you’re going to devour the outlandish set pieces and get wet-eyed as series regulars like Vin Diesel wax philosophic about family amid the nitrous-infused vehicular carnage.
American Fable (IFC Midnight, 96 minutes, Unrated, DVD): Writer-director Anne Hamilton’s feature-length debut, American Fable, is a dreamy slice of childhood fantasy laced with malevolence.
It’s a superb first effort that perfectly captures the innocent wonder of its 11-year-old protagonist, Gitty (Peyton Kennedy), whose parents are struggling to maintain ownership of their family farm.
American Fable unspools like a slow summer afternoon, the kind of day to a child that seems to last forever. After discovering a man (the always-dependable Richard Schiff) locked inside an old grain silo, Gitty must struggle with conflicting agendas – obey her parents and stay away from the silo, or trust the velvety promises of the man to fulfill any wish she wants if she helps free him. Hamilton’s story doles out key details like a voyeur, crafting several nice scenes where Gitty sneaks her way to a vantage point in order to learn more about the man’s identity and her parent’s involvement in his disappearance.
Experiencing these moments through her eyes helps keep the viewer’s attention, and you can’t help but accompany the story just to see how it all will resolve.
This is a wonderful, surprise sleeper that deserves to be seen.
Terror in a Texas Town
Spark: A Space Tail
Species: Collector’s Edition