×

Film Review: ‘Along Came the Devil’

A demon stalks a teenage girl in this wobbly, low-rent, overly derivative knockoff of 'The Exorcist.'

Director:
Jason DeVan
With:
Jessica Barth, Matt Dallas, Sydney Sweeney, Madison Lintz, Heather DeVan, Bruce Davison, Austin Filson, Ahmed Lucan, PK DeVan, Kyla Deaver, Lia McHugh, Mark Ashworth, Liz Godwin, Patrick R. Walker, Donna Biscoe.
Release Date:
Aug 10, 2018

One hour 29 minutes

The budget may be low, but the level of scares and imagination are lower still in “Along Came the Devil,” a feeble indie horror film that sometimes seems like a straight retread and other times feels like a movie aimed specifically at Christian audiences. Either way, it creaks more than it creeps, to the extent that various scenes appear to be missing from director Jason DeVan’s disjointed debut. Uninspired and increasingly silly, the Atlanta-shot movie will strike most genre fans as overly derivative, while the moderate amount of cursing and gore (however unconvincing) will nevertheless be more than faith-based-entertainment seekers typically find palatable. Gravitas Ventures is giving the picture a limited theatrical launch Aug. 10, simultaneous with on-demand/digital HD release.

Warning bells go off immediately as the film starts with far too much explanatory text, a ham-fisted childhood flashback and the de rigueur claim: “Based on true events” (though if this movie is based on anything, it’s William Friedkin’s original 1973 “The Exorcist,” whose ideas are at times quite shamelessly copied).

Ten years later, high-schooler Ashley (Sydney Sweeney) has been taken in by Aunt Tanya (Jessica Barth). Ashley’s abusive father is now dead, older sister Jordan has just gone off to college, and their mother has long since mysteriously disappeared. Niece and aunt move back to the newly separated sisters’ home town, where Ashley reunites with the girl who was her best friend (Madison Lintz’s Hannah) and the boy who crushed on her (Austin Filson’s Shane) when she was but a wee tot.

Unfortunately, she’s also reunited with the dark force that may have caused the disappearance of her mom (producer/co-scenarist Heather DeVan). It begins manifesting itself in rote fleeting-shadow jump scares underlined by soundtrack triggers. After dreaming that this demon has entered her bed, Ashley suddenly begins dressing and acting “slutty.” Yet before she can wander too far down the path of promiscuity, the possession takes a more Linda Blair-like turn that attracts the ministrations of Pastor John (Matt Dallas) and his superior, Reverend Michael (Bruce Davison), the latter an expert in the realms of demonology and exorcism.

We do get to peep at the incarnation of the offending Satan, who arrives in traditional form as a dude in a hairy leotard with horns and glowing eyes. But the eventual violent deaths he/it causes take place off-screen, and the few unrelated instances of gore are laughable.

There are several clumsy transitions, most notably when characters at school excitedly tell Ashley “what just happened” — we have no idea what they’re talking about, suggesting an important sequence abandoned. Other confusing decisions include a sequence shot as if by a surveillance camera trained on Ashley’s bed when there’s no reason why her room would be under surveillance.

The abrupt, premature-feeling ending is one more factor that makes it hard to tell whether the film’s faults are due more to ineptitude or to production woes. It’s also difficult to figure how seriously “Devil” means to take its religious angle, as there’s more talk of faith than usual for a genre film, but it’s very superficial. And the story content (including the relative ineffectiveness of clergy against an evil foe) often seems like a bad fit for churchgoing viewers.

Certainly the script’s hokey dialogue and clichéd situations suggest some wobbly captaining of this leaky ship, as do the uneven performances. (As the angsty senior cleric, Davison is in a different league than his fellow cast members, but the material he has to work with isn’t exactly “First Reformed” — or William Peter Blatty, for that matter.) Modest yet highly variable effects aside, the tech/design contributions are a little more consistent, with by far the biggest plus being the reasonable surface gloss Justin Duval’s widescreen lensing provides.

Popular on Variety

Film Review: 'Along Came the Devil'

Reviewed online, San Francisco, Aug. 6, 2018. Running time: 89 MIN.

Production: A Gravitas Ventures release of a DeVan Clan production. Producers: Jason DeVan, Dylan Matlock, Heather DeVan. Executive producer: Ken Dunn. Co-producers: Matt Dallas, Jessica Barth, Ray Cohen.

Crew: Director: Jason DeVan. Screenplay: DeVan, Dylan Matlock, Heather Devan, from a story by DeVan. Camera (color, widescreen, HD): Justin Duval. Editor: Evan Ahlgren. Music: Kevin Coughlin, Chad Lanier.

With: Jessica Barth, Matt Dallas, Sydney Sweeney, Madison Lintz, Heather DeVan, Bruce Davison, Austin Filson, Ahmed Lucan, PK DeVan, Kyla Deaver, Lia McHugh, Mark Ashworth, Liz Godwin, Patrick R. Walker, Donna Biscoe.

More Film

  • Metro 2033

    Cult Sci-Fi Novel 'Metro 2033' to Be Adapted as Movie (EXCLUSIVE)

    Russia’s TNT-Premier Studios Company, TV-3 Channel and Central Partnership Film Company – all part of Gazprom Media – have come together to produce a movie based on Dmitry Glukhovsky’s sci-fi novel “Metro 2033,” which has also been adapted as a video game. Filming is due to start next year. The Russian premiere of the movie [...]

  • Beforeigners

    'Beforeigners’' Anne Bjornstad on HBO's First Norwegian Original Series

    HAUGESUND, Norway  —  HBO Europe’s first Norwegian original series, which debuted Aug. 21 exclusively across HBO’s territories, has garnered rave reviews in the Norwegian press. It is also a perfect fit for HBO’s brand and goal to create bold, smart and author-driven shows. Produced by Endemol Shine’s Norwegian prodco Rubicon TV, “Beforeigners” is helmed by [...]

  • Refugees from the besieged Muslim enclave

    Sarajevo’s True Stories Market: Documenting the Atrocities of War

    Reconciliation and dealing with the tragedies of the Yugoslav Wars has been a major focus of the Sarajevo Film Festival and its CineLink Industry Days event in recent years. The True Stories Market, launched in 2016, aims to connect filmmakers with organizations that are researching and documenting the Yugoslav Wars that spanned 1991 to 2001 [...]

  • Ena Sendijarevic’s ‘Take Me Somewhere Nice’

    Ena Sendijarevic’s ‘Take Me Somewhere Nice’ Wins Top Prize in Sarajevo

    “Take Me Somewhere Nice,” Bosnian director Ena Sendijarević’s coming-of-age story about a teen raised in the Netherlands who returns to Bosnia to visit her ailing father, won the top prize at the Sarajevo Film Festival Thursday night, earning the Amsterdam-based helmer the coveted Heart of Sarajevo Award. The jury heralded the “beautifully photographed, acted, scripted [...]

  • Khadar Ahmed - BUFO - photo

    Bufo Sets Key Cast for Co-Production ‘The Gravedigger' (EXCLUSIVE)

    HAUGESUND, Norway  —   Actor Omar Abdi, who starred in the Ahmed-scripted short “Citizens,” and actress Yasmin Warsame, who made her name as a Canadian model, will topline romantic-tragedy “The Gravedigger,” the latest big screen project from Bufo, the Helsinki-based outfit behind Berlinale winner “The Other Side of Hope.” The film follows a Djibouti gravedigger [...]

  • Jacobs Ladder Movie 2019

    Film Review: 'Jacob's Ladder'

    It’s understandable that someone would want to remake “Jacob’s Ladder,” Adrian Lyne’s 1990 head-trip thriller about a Vietnam veteran haunted by fragmentary nightmare visions. I was far from alone in finding the original to be an overwrought but rather thin “psychological” horror film that was more punishing than pleasurable. And it wasn’t exactly a hit, [...]

  • Fiddler A Miracle of Miracles

    Film Review: 'Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles'

    Still beloved and routinely revived 55 years after its Broadway debut — including a Yiddish-language version now playing in New York — “Fiddler on the Roof” is a popular phenomenon that shows no sign of subsiding. Max Lewkowicz’s “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles” provides an entertaining if hardly exhaustive overview of how the unlikely success [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content