Devil May Care Image

Devil May Care

By Bobby LePire | January 16, 2024

With Devil May Care, director Sam Mason-Bell, producer James Cullen Bressack, and screenwriter Chuck Wagner move into more kid-friendly territory than usual. Missy (Annabella Rich), Brad (Aidan Harris), Pam (Nicole Katherine Riddell), Mac (Jack Perry), Elaine (Anaïs Marden), and Tom (Eliot Gibson) break into a supposedly haunted abandoned theater. In between snogging each other, legends of the creepy things that happened here are exchanged. The Devil (James Hamer-Morton) once possessed an actor and made him kill his co-star. A werewolf (Chris Mills) just so happens to be roaming the nearby woods and threatens anyone foolish enough to enter the theater. The friends soon learn the horrifying truth behind these spooky stories.

The biggest stars in the world have roles where they let go and ham it up, so, understandably, such a thing happens here. But such a take has a spotty track record. Dennis Hopper’s unhinged acting in Blue Velvet adds menace to the proceedings. But Nicolas Cage’s Wicker Man turn is absurd and unintentionally funny. The six core actors are all over the top. When Rich rants about how a photo resembles her, it feels more like a silly rant than realistically opining over what’s happening. However, Hamer-Morton is effectively off-putting as the devil, and Mills is very physical as the werewolf.

“…[friends] break into a supposedly haunted abandoned theater.”

Thanks to vivid lighting and a clever story structure, Devil May Care invites families into a scary but approachable realm. The use of the theater’s urban legends as a framework for what the six friends experience allows frightful moments to be sprinkled throughout. The editing, courtesy of Mason-Bell, makes the various plotlines easy to follow. There’s a mounting sense of dread in each legend that feeds into what befalls the leads. Mind you, this is kid-centric, so the frights present are more jump-scare-related than the dread of the unknown a la Millenial Killer. But still, there’s sufficient atmosphere that works as a gateway for little ones to be introduced to what horror has to offer.

The lighting aids tremendously in delivering the frights. The basement where the boys get lost is creepy because of how ominous it’s lit. The few outside scenes, which usually involve the werewolf, look great as well. It should also be noted that the makeup effects on the werewolf and devil are pretty convincing.

Devil May Care is a little too over-the-top to truly involve older audiences. But it still works, especially for children, thanks to the strong direction and story structure. While this isn’t as memorable as Trash Arts best, it is a solid gateway horror entry for the young ones in a horror-loving family.

Devil May Care (2023)

Directed: Sam Mason-Bell

Written: Chuck Wagner

Starring: Annabella Rich, Aidan Harris, Nicole Katherine Riddell, Jack Perry, Anaïs Marden, Eliot Gibson, James Hamer-Morton, Chris Mills, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

Devil May Care Image

"…a solid gateway horror entry for the young ones..."

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