While that is frustrating, Cohn’s direction is sublime. I have seen somewhere around 90% of his directorial output and feel confident, claiming that Devil’s Revenge is one of his most stylish and assured efforts. The back and forth between the present day and the first demon attacks are exhilarating and adds a sense of intensity. If the Devil wins, humanity will be over. The mass slaughter shown during the flashbacks adds weight to Sergio’s desires; presuming he isn’t crazy, of course.
The editing is kinetic, building a momentum that never lets up. Ryan Broomberg’s cinematography paints a gorgeous film, with vibrant colors and excellent shadow play, even during easy two-way dialogue shots. A wide profile shot of Shatner and Brooks talking to each is perfectly lit and makes for a gripping sequence. Of course, compelling dialogue and acting help quite a bit.
Shatner takes flak for stilted deliveries, and that can be true on occasion. But in Devil’s Revenge, his full dramatic range is on display, and it is better than one might think. A speech to the bloodthirsty crowd trying to kill his son is genuinely heartfelt. Brooks, who most are probably familiar with as a videogame voice actor, is amazing as Sergio. His confusion about what he is seeing and his longing to find the artifact both register believably. His chemistry with Ryan is high, and they play off each other nicely.
“…one of his most stylish and assured efforts.”
I have never seen whichever Star Trek series Ryan was on and mostly know her from the brilliant rom-com Down With Love and Mortal Kombat: Legacy. She is very empathetic and engaging here. Her frustration over her husband’s strange compulsion to find the artifact makes sense, but she also allows her love of him to shine through. This gives the familial themes some nice weight. Ciara Hanna, as daughter Dana, is as reliable as ever, with her introduction being especially fun. As the son Eric, Robert Scott Wilson is also quite good and handles the action admirably.
Devil’s Revenge takes advantage of both computer-generated effects and practical. The CGI is a little rough around the edges at times. A bit too shiny and clean to be appropriately effective, though the warping effects are well-done. Vincent J. Guastini’s make-up effects for the various devils is jaw-droppingly impressive. They each have a unique, easily identifiable look, move well, and are creepy to look at. These make the villains feel entirely realistic, which in turn creates very real stakes for the characters.
Devil’s Revenge has a subplot that is awkward and does not work. But, everything else about the movie is first-rate. Director Jared Cohn keeps the momentum on full-throttle and creates a tense atmosphere. The cast all deliver in a big way, especially Shatner, who turns in a wonderfully dramatic performance. The monsters look amazing, and the way the story structure plays with reality is a lot of fun.