With a tip of the hat to “Performance,” the 1970 cult fave about a hardboiled gangster who trips into the fantastical, and several sidelong glances at Pinter’s “The Dumb Waiter,” writer-director Sean Hogan sustains a teasingly suspenseful scenario throughout most of “The Devil’s Business.” A cleverly economical thriller about two Brit hitmen who have a hell of a time carrying out their latest assignment, the pic should parlay exposure at selected niche fests into limited theatrical and wide homevid release.Late one night, as a veteran hired killer (a terrific Billy Clarke) and his inexperienced protege (Jack Gordon) wait for their target to return home, they discover evidence of Satan worship in the man’s garage. Badly shaken, they nonetheless opt not to leave before completing their work — which, of course, proves unexpectedly difficult. The ending is a letdown, but only because Hogan so deftly balances mounting dread and dark humor in the buildup. Pic was shot almost entirely within the home of producer Jennifer Handorf’s in-laws, and Nicola Marsh’s supple lensing enhances the overall sense of claustrophobic tension.
An SSH Films production. Produced by Jennifer Handorf. Executive producers, Mirian Handorf, Sean Hogan, Jay Slater. Directed, written by Sean Hogan.
Camera (color, HD), Nicola Marsh; editors, Hogan, Emma Gaffney; music, Justin Greaves. Reviewed at Fantastic Fest, Austin, Sept. 28, 2011. Running time: 73 MIN.
Billy Clarke, Jack Gordon, Jonathan Hansler, Harry Miller.