Be careful who you get into a relationship with, people! In this case, Sharlene (Jodi Essex) didn’t do enough homework on her ex-boyfriend Ronald the Mortician (Robert Haulbrook). He’s more than a little broken up by their break up, and his calls to Sharlene for reconciliation drift back and forth between declarations of love and outright threats. Unfortunately for Sharlene, their moments of intimacy involved her sharing perhaps too much information about the things that truly frighten her, and Ronald committed those fears to memory.
Watching Deviling made me think back to all the relationships I’ve had in my life with a sigh of relief that none of them ended all that bad. Obviously, if a relationship runs long enough, there is a certain risk of vulnerability and abuse of trust. It’s just part of the package; if you’ve managed to survive unscathed, count your blessings.
If you’re looking to cast a psychopath for your next film, Robert Haulbrook’s portrayal of Ronald should put him on your list. He embodies the word “creep” from image one, yet somehow you don’t entirely disbelieve that, in his less nutso moments, he probably did have a happy relationship with Sharlene (as various photos from their time together would suggest). Which makes it all the more scary, knowing that someone can seem so normal and happy at one point, then turn into a shaking mess of psycho the next.
The minus of Deviling is that there are no real surprises; where you guess it’s going to go is precisely where it ends up going. The plus, however, is that it doesn’t matter that much because it does what it does really well. Robert Haulbrook is just psycho-sensational, and that’s what keeps your attention. This isn’t a feel-good short, but if you’re looking for a reason to stay out of the dating game for a while, 14 minutes with Deviling might convince you that masturbation is your safest bet. Or, you know, don’t date a mortician.
What? Don’t blame me, morticians! I didn’t make the movie…
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