×

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.

Popular on Variety

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.

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

  • Running on Empty

    Berlin: Lisa Weber on Empathy and Courage in Her Panorama Doc 'Running on Empty'

    Nineteen-year-old Claudia lives with her mother, brother and four-year-old son in a public housing complex in Vienna, with no job, no prospects on the horizon, and the present slipping by in a series of uneventful days. But in “Running on Empty,” which premiered Feb. 25 in the Panorama section of the Berlin Film Festival, director Lisa [...]

  • Evgenia Markova

    Berlin: New Roskino CEO Evgenia Markova Moves to Boost Russian Film Biz

    With relations between Russia and the U.S. growing frostier amid renewed allegations of election interference by Moscow ahead of the 2020 presidential polls, the new head of Russian movie support agency Roskino is banking on a thaw, as the country unveils a host of measures to lure foreign productions and boost the growing Russian film [...]

  • Rob Schneider'The Week Of' film premiere,

    Rob Schneider To Star in and Direct Spanish-Language Comedy ‘Amor es Amor’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    BERLIN — Teaming two of the most energetic players on the new Spanish-language content scene, El Estudio and Infinity Hill are teaming to produce “Amor es Amor,” Rob Schneider’s Spanish-language movie debut as both an actor and director. A comedy, “Amor es Amor” turns on Enrique Juarez, an up-and-coming Mexican telenovela actor on the verge [...]

  • Pari

    Berlin: Siamak Etemadi on Finding His Path in Panorama Player 'Pari'

    Stunned to discover that her son has vanished while studying abroad in Athens, an Iranian woman sets off on a desperate search across the Greek capital to find him. Navigating a foreign and forbidding landscape, she’s forced to also travel deep within herself, uncovering buried truths and offering a chance for her own reinvention. “Pari” [...]

  • Cocoon of Stone

    Japan’s Wowow Makes Move Into Theatrical Releasing (EXCLUSIVE)

    Japanese pay-TV leader Wowow is to expand into theatrical releasing. The company made its theatrical buying debut this week at the Berlin Film Festival’s accompanying European Film Market. With linear channels and a movie-driven on-demand service, Wowow is already one of the leading consumers of movie content in Japan, and boasts 2.8 million subscribers. These [...]

  • Stormtroopers'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' film

    What Disney’s CEO Shake-Up Means for Its Movie Business

    After rocking a quiet Tuesday afternoon with news of leadership changes at the very top of the Walt Disney Corporation, attention has turned to respective divisions at the Hollywood superpower — and to what the side-stepping of Bob Iger and ascension of new CEO Bob Chapek might mean for the future. This includes Disney’s Goliath [...]

  • Jeremy Renner

    John Ottman Hosts Jeremy Renner, Michael Keaton, More at 'Aiding Australia' Benefit

    Film editor and composer John Ottman, who won an Oscar for “Bohemian Rhapsody” in 2019, hosted members of the film, television and music communities at the “Aiding Australia” charity dinner and concert held at his West Hollywood home on Sunday evening (Feb. 23). The benefit raised funds to help in the recovery of fire-ravaged Australia, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content