Devil’s Five is an independently produced horror anthology with four stories plus the wraparound mystery tying everything together. The intertwining narrative, The Devil’s Five, begins with Ansel Schneider (Ralf Scheepers) being arrested for the murder of several police officers. He claims he is innocent while the detectives look into various pieces of evidence found at the crime scene. This includes four flash drives, each one containing footage of supernatural events, which Ansel claims as proof of the devil emerging to wreak havoc on people.
From writer/director Terry R. Wickham (who also helmed the wraparound), the first story is Abandoned. Photographer Steve (Aaron Mathias) takes model Billie (Siakie Tetteh) to an abandoned mental health facility for a photoshoot. Shortly after their session begins, they feel an eerie presence that harbors evil intentions.
Abandoned is not a strong start, considering the intrigue built up over the first few minutes of the wraparound. It drags in places, especially near the beginning. There’s what feels like an endless conversation about whether they should shoot there or not. It doesn’t help that the two actors don’t share much chemistry, so there is little to grasp onto.
“…four flash drives, each one containing footage of supernatural events…proof of the devil…”
But, as throughout the entirety of Devil’s Five, the score by David Helpling, Houssem Turki, and Geoff Tyson (I do not know if it was a full-on collaboration or if they scored separate entries) is amazing and tense. It adds a sense of urgency and atmosphere that the screenplay and the acting don’t always achieve. Plus, the cinematography here is quite stellar. Directors of photography Edwin M. Figueroa and Adrian Popescu ensure even brightly lit, sunny skies are filled with dread. When Steve and Billie first enter the abandoned building, there’s a dolly shot viewing them through broken windows that sets the creepy tone perfectly.
Next is Don’t Say These Words, written and directed by George Brianka. It follows three teenage friends who discover an ancient tome and use it to give themselves unique powers. But, these come with a price… blood! Are Ritchie (Ross Bergen), Jimmy (Darrin Hickok), and Mike (Walter Masterson) willing to pay that price, or will they see the error of their ways?
While its premise is engaging from the jump, some odd detours detract and slow the pacing down quite a bit. There’s an extended joke sequence (one of those “your day in the barrel” bits) that is hardly necessary. It feels like the actors improvised it, and it could be cut and shorten the lengthy near 2-hour runtime. Plus, the Slayer versus other bands bit is more awkward than endearing.
However, the actors feel like actual friends, and their bond allows audiences to empathize with these characters. Plus, once again, the segment looks better than expected for home video recordings for a school project.
"…brightly lit, sunny skies are filled with dread."