Something trippy this way comes in writer-director Kelton Jones’ neo-horror film, Of The Devil. The movie, based on a story by James Cullen Bressack, centers around married couple Ben (Jonathan Stoddard) and Norma (Daniela Palavencino). Their son Alex (Lucas Sequeira) has recently been diagnosed with cancer. Now, he has a litany of vivid dreams and speaks with deceased family members. Norma hears from a friend that there is a way to save her child, albeit one that is unethical and unorthodox. As a result, Alex is healed, much to the surprise of his parents. However, the unconventional surgery that was used to heal their son may have made things a lot worse for the family as a whole.
Moreover, Ben’s mother, who is stricken with dementia, now lives in the house. This seems to be just another headache for Norma to endure. But Ben’s mother has visions involving deceased loved ones, ultimately ending in her gory demise. After her sudden death, Detective Murphy (Kelton Jones) swoops in with his Chester Arthur-styled mustache and suspects that Ben is the murderer, not realizing that things have gotten strange after Alex’s surgery.
Of the Devil is perfectly fine if one only requires a few jump-scares scattered throughout the storyline. However, the plot is just a hodge-podge of different horror tropes done better elsewhere. From The Exorcist, The Shining, Pet Semetary, and The Sixth Sense, there’s a lot of rehashing here. Unfortunately, the film never coherently blends together to come to a satisfying ending. Instead, the audience is met with a rushed and boring finale that never lives up to the talents of the actors or the crew.
“…has a litany of vivid dreams and speaks with deceased family members.”
You would think that a movie called Of the Devil would be something incredibly demonic and frightening. Instead, it just seems to be content with being sophomoric and standard in its execution. That isn’t to say that some good cannot come from this macabre venture. The acting from Jonathan Stoddard and Daniela Palavencino is certainly believable, for the most part. They definitely share a nice chemistry. Individually, each has the charisma and concern required in their countenance when the scene needs it.
Another thing the film truly benefits from is the prosthetics and makeup effects. Using fake blood and props for maggots, bugs, and crows is not an easy feat for any filmmaker. Believe me, I know, but Jones seems to be proficient at creating atmosphere with ghoulish, undead makeup. Although, of course, parading around like something out of The Walking Dead isn’t that much to brag about, in this case.
In conclusion, Of the Devil certainly has potential, but it doesn’t bring anything new to the horror genre or reinvent the wave of terror in any notable way. It might make a good killing in the home video world/streaming, but it ultimately falls short of its potential greatness. Certainly, there is room for growth, and hopefully, Jones will show some later on in his career. This just was not the spine-tingling horror film that I was hoping to see.
"…truly benefits from...the prosthetics and makeup..."