“The Devil’s Playground” is the term the Amish (that is, those who chose to stay with the faith) use to describe the “outside English world.” At age 16, all Amish youth must experience “Rumspringa” and are asked to make a serious choice… get rid of all that can be seen as ostentatious or extravagant (this means EVERYTHING!) and commit to the ways of the church OR leave the church, lose your place next to Christ and be damned to Hell.
While this may be a slight exaggeration the effects of this grave quandry are not. Teens who are unsure are given the chance to do as they please and experience all of the evils and pleasures of the outside world. This chance is given with the hopes that it will halt their cravings later in life. These “experiences” include everything from television and designer clothes to extravagant parties and drugs … apparently ending with pre-marital parenthood and imprisionment. Once the smoke and haze of the sex, drugs and alcohol subside and they have made their minds clear, they can now make their “educated” decision.
Clever at times, depressing at others, but always, at its base, interesting and informative, “Devil’s Playground” does suffer from its lack of perspective. For it alludes to “document” an entire sub-culture of a particular society, but in reality, it simply follows one troubled youth, Farron. While this subject matter is never dull, the doc itself basically restricts its views to the perfect Amish who easily make the transision or the degenerate, drug addicted “American” kids (and much more of the latter han the former), with no real depth into any middle ground on either side. Unfortunately more latitude in the middle would have simply made this a better documentary and possibly made the film a bit more mainstream.