Sunday, January 4, 2015

Film Review: At The Devil's Door (2014)

At The Devil's Door (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...a hit-and-miss film -- and it does both evenly."

Real estate agent Leigh (Catalina Sandino Moreno) is hired to sell a house that harbors a supernatural secret...

At The Devil's Door actually begins with a teenage girl (Ashley Rickards), who plays a peculiar game with a mysterious man. The story then leaps to the present where Leigh is trying to sell the house -- the same house the teenage girl lived in. So, Leigh sets up the sell while talking to her "moody" sister, Vera (Naya Rivera). Things go a little more than bump in the night at the home, consequently causing Vera to investigate the mystery. It becomes a bit hectic and contrived during the final act. It ultimately leads to a disappointing and wasteful ending, as well.

 At The Devil's Door is a hit-and-miss film -- and it does both evenly. At times, At The Devil's Door is a creepy, effective, and original horror film. At other times, At The Devil's Door is a predictable and bland horror film. The story, for the most part, is interesting. There are some creepy scenes here and there, as well as some great visuals. There are also plenty of jump-scares -- some may jolt you, some will fall flat. Some "scares" are a bit too generic, though. For example, you have the typical bone-popping and levitation we see in every other supernatural horror film. Personally, I don't see how levitation is scary or creepy, and this film uses it a lot. (Although I loved it the first time I saw it in The Exorcist.)

My major issue, though, comes from the latter half of the film. For one, you have to spend the latter half of the movie with Vera, who is, well, unlikable. She has that arrogant "I'm too cool for that" attitude throughout the film. She also has the same bland facial expression the entire time as if her face were painted on. Aside from the boring character(s), the story becomes odd and contrived, especially the ending. It takes all this time to buildup, only to lead to a unbelievably underwhelming ending. Even without the mediocre ending, the second half of the story, although interesting, feels like it's wandering without a destination.

The acting was okay. Catalina Sandino Moreno was good. Naya Rivera was bland, mostly due to the character, though. Ashley Rickards isn't bad per se, but she seemed out of place. The music was great, though; in fact, sometimes the music was scarier than the actual film. The film is shot well, too. Writer and director Nicholas McCarthy, who also directed The Pact, which I enjoyed, has interesting ideas but lacks conviction. At times, it seemed like he was unsure of his own story and ended up shooting for anything. The film is often creepy and scary, but it also tends to revert to the same tricks we've seen before -- some tricks we've actually seen McCarthy execute himself.

Overall, At The Devil's Door is a decent horror film. It can often be very creepy and interesting, and some of its visuals were splendid. Just as often, it can also be bland and generic. It starts off strong, but ends poorly. If you're interested in the story or McCarthy's direction, as I was, then this may be worth your time. Even though I'm leaving disappointed, I continue to look forward to McCarthy's future horror films.

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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