So Jason, being down here at the Spillmonics Institute isn't easy. All these terrible films they keep sending me and I've got to try to pick the worst of the lot to try to drive you and your little robot friend Co-Host 3000 INSANE! This one has got to be a the sanity sucking stinker of the lot, a little film called "The Devil's Curse" or, as the ever-helpful internet informs me, "Credo". This one's sure to make you jump out the windows of the Tract-housing-of-love. Without further ado, I bring the pain, called, "The Devil's Curse"...
"Dare to believe"
is the tagline on the cover. That threw me. Was this supposed to be inspirational? Motivational? Is it going to be a horror movie centering on Tony Robbins
? Dare to believe . . . that dreams come true? How about 'dare to believe'
that "The Devil's Curse"
won't suck. Is that so much to ask? No, I didn't go into this one with an open mind. My guard is up on most of these. Call it unfair or biased reviewing or whatever the hell you want. I'm just defending myself from the unending tide of barbed, malevolent monstrosities. If you go into them baring your pink underbelly, fuckers like Insanitarium
will disembowel you.
After an ominous opening that lays the dread on like spackle
, the threat is established, if not immediately defined. A small group of British college students and career partiers have found themselves on the street. They're your typical collection of victims - the shy, tech-centric guy; Alice
, the prudish, archetypal 'good girl'
; and your ugly American, amusingly named 'Jock'
. The rest of them are nameless, faceless blobs, running around dumb and tender-skinned, only marginally better than cave moles with targets between their rheumy eyes. Their search for a place to live puts them on a collision course with the aforementioned dread as they break into a gothic, abandoned building. Naturally, it's the kind of place with a horrible history - a theological school with skeletons in its closet. So to spell things out for you, they've broken into an abandoned religious school where a demon was summoned, and then they decide to have a seance. Better decisions have been made. While you're at it, why don't you just call up the retarded kid you used to pick on in high school. You know, the one who lives in the mountains and collects power tools? Or maybe you should check out that sound in the basement. Or let's go into the woods, hunting for whatever has mauled all of the farm animals. They even encounter a 'Ralph'
, a 'you're doomed'
soothsayer warning them of the shit they're in. (Homeless guys and Indians always have preternatural knowledge in horror films. Doesn't help 'em, though. They're usually the first to get fucked by whatever horrors the post-teens unleashed.) Seriously, if you know all of the sordid details of this place's past and start hearing sounds like hell itself just guzzled a pint of Juarez toilet water and that doesn't deter you, then you deserve whatever is coming to you.
15 minutes in, after a mandatory flashback, all the meat was in place. Nothin' left to do but wait for the killin'. Therein lies a big part of the problem. Barring a narrative rug being pulled out from under us, the mystery was all gone (or so I thought). Yet it was still 44 minutes into the film before the first lackluster death. Finally, the screws really begin to tighten and the cast actually makes a smart decision - get the hell out. I have to give kudos to the film for taking its time to build tension. The thrills rely mostly on sound and not so much on 'boo scares.'
Despite it playing out like you'd expect, there's a surprising amount of restraint here. Unfortunately, that subtlety doesn't cover everything. There's more than one 'Cliff Notes-style'
explanation, as if this were the Annotated Devil's Curse
. They stop just short of breaking the fourth wall.
In spite of all of the good will they'd built up, the specter of Shyamalan
casts its shadow. There's an ending that subverts the entire film and renders it worthless. You had a good thing going with "The Devil's Curse"
, but had to piss all over it with a golden spray of manufactured cleverness.
-There's a handful of trailers here, a myriad of subpar straight-to-video films.
-"The Five Essentials of a Horror Movie"
- Sadly it's not what it claims to be, an analysis of the genre, but a passingly amusing behind the scenes featurette. If only they'd taken time to really sink their teeth into these 'essentials'
. Then some of the sequences here wouldn't have been so damned predictable.
If you 'dared to believe'
that this movie would not suck, you'd be mostly right. In fact, a good deal of it is entertaining. There are believable character interactions and passable acting. It does, however, get mired in clumsy, pseudo-psychological mind games and the false promise of demons. It's a semi-effective, if largely forgettable haunted house yarn. If Tony Robbins
had only shown up as the bad guy...
Entertaining? Believable character interactions? Let me see that gorram package! This looked like a sure mind destroyer! You just can't get good crappy films these days. Until next time. Push the button, Frank.
Click Here to Buy "The Devil's Curse"