Thursday, May 31, 2018

DEVIL'S GATE (2017) (Scream Factory Blu-ray Review)


Label: Scream Factory / IFC Midnight 

Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 94 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, DTS-HD MA 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.40:1) 
Director: Clay Staub
Cast: Amanda Schull, Milo Ventimiglia, Shawn Ashmore, Bridget Regan, Jonathan Frakes

In Devil's Gate (2018) FBI agent Daria Francis (Amanda Schull, TV's Pretty Little Liars) arrives in Devil's Gate, North Dakota to investigate the disappearance of the wife and son of local farmer Jackson Pritchard (Milo Ventimiglia, TV's Heroes), who she believes probably had something to do with his family's disappearance. She's accompanied by local deputy Colt Salter (Shawn Ashmore, X-Men)and the pair make their way to Pritchard's dilapidated farm house on the outskirts of town. Arriving they find the tense farmer none to helpful and surprisingly violent, they restrain him and search the home where the agent finds the whole property is elaborately booby-trapped, even stranger, he keeps an unidentified quivering mass of flesh locked away in a cage the basement. Then oddly powerful and localized lightning begins striking an area near the farmhouse, revealing a strange glyph covered stone under the ground, and it only gets stranger after that.  

This tense thriller offers a little bit for everyone, we get some Texas Chainsaw Massacre inspired trappings (and traps), a bit of otherworldly supernatural and science fiction, it's a real genre-bender. Our three main characters not only fight each other but must team-up when thet find themselves under siege from... something, something diabolical that keeps evolving in away, is it something from Heaven, from Hell or something from off-planet, this one will keep you wondering just what the fudge is going on right up until the end, though it definitely goes in a direction, it just keeps a nice veil of mystery and ambiguity throughout. 

The film is well-shot and executed, visually impressive and a bit of a genre bender that kept me tuned-in from start to finish even if I wasn't really sure what was happening exactly, plus we get some cool creature special effects by way of actor Javier Botet (all the [REC] films) in a rubber-suit, a design that falls somewhere in between fluke-man from that episode of the X-Files and albino xenomorph. 

The cast is really good here, Milo Ventimiglia is chewing up a bit of scenery to a degree as the religious zealot farmer, I found my self hating and liking him in equal measure, and Shawn Ashmore is always a welcome, expecting him to be a clueless hick-cop, but he turns out to not be. I dug Amanda Schull's agent who is out to prove herself in the face of a past tragedy that is revealed but not dwelled on. Also be on the lookout for Jonathan Frakes of Star Trek: The Next Generation as the local sheriff who hates that the F.B.I. is in town investigating the disappearances.  

There's not a whole lot I didn't like about this one, I went along with it just fine, my ideas of about what the creature-menace was evolved throughout and I liked the direction it went, though there was scene wherein the FBI agent spots a small black and white photo hanging on the wall of the house and pops out a theory that seem a bit far-fetched, I mean she just sees this thing and goes off on a tear, spotting minute details she couldn't possibly have glanced at the distance she saw it from, but that's just a small niggle, otherwise this was a tense thriller with some fun sci-fi/supernatural phenomena, and I like that it kept a fun air of mystery about it, feeling a bit like a stand-alone episode of the X-files, in a good way. I didn't love it, but this was an entertaining watch. 

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