Jess Norvisgaard’s The Good Things Devils Do starts with Richard (an always welcomed Bill Oberst Jr.) and his daughter Mouse (Mary Katherine O’Donnell) being forced to pull off one last heist before he can walk away from his life of crime forever. They are sent with the brute Percy (Kane Hodder), to ensure the job gets done.
On the other side of town, Melvin (David Rucker III) is preparing for Halloween night and looking over his latest acquisition for the Museum Of Macabre: a vampire’s corpse. Unintentionally, said vampire, Masquerade (Veronika Stoykova), is awakened and begins wreaking havoc on Melvin and his family. Then the robbers show up and further complicate an already dire situation.
Written and directed by Norvisgaard, The Good Things Devils Do takes such a long time to fuse its two stories that I honestly thought this was an anthology flick for a brief period. One where all the stories intersect somehow, but after Masquerade kills members of Melvin’s family and the plot does not shift, I figured it wasn’t. Given the time devoted to Melvin, one would think that he’s pretty well fleshed out, but he is not. He is a curator at the museum, has a loving family, and is an atheist. That’s all there really is to him.
“…vampire… is awakened and begins wreaking havoc…”
And this is the biggest problem with the movie, as none of its characters are well-fleshed out. The fine cast does what they can (Oberst Jr. and Rucker III play off each other quite well), but there’s no one to connect with properly, thus keeping the viewer’s engagement at a distance. There’s a moment where Richard convinces Melvin that they need to pray and that will help them beat Masquerade. It is such a compelling theme – using a vampire to prove to an atheist that God is real – but aside from that scene, not enough is made of this idea for it to be truly thought-provoking.
That is not to say the movie never works, just that it never gets below the surface to elicit anything beyond solid jump scares and cool camera work. Norvisgaard excels in the action-oriented moments, and luckily, once the carnage begins, it rarely lets up. This means for all the issues in the writing, The Good Things Devils Do is 1) never boring and 2) pretty enjoyable overall. Melvin is trying to escape, and Percy busts through the door to kick some butt and steal money. It is a kinetic and fun scene of mayhem and destruction. Happily, all the action beats offer a similarly enjoyable experience.
Horror fans might be a bit disappointed as the film is never terrifying. A jump scare here or there, sure, but the piece’s atmosphere is much more curious in the macabre and supernatural, much like Melvin, than living and breathing it. While I think genre buffs will appreciate some of the more creative ideas Norvisgaard plays around with (how the souls of the vampire’s victims are used), the lack of frights will turn off some potential viewers.
The Good Things Devils Do is shallow and not particularly scary. But, the actors are good, the action is furious and cool, and the vampire lore presented here is compelling. This means that those who don’t mind some cheese with their horror will have an enjoyable time with this title.
"…genre buffs will appreciate some of the more creative ideas Norvisgaard plays around with..."