From the Devil (2022) Review

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Of the Devil sees actor Kelton Jones (Miranda Veil, Escape from Area 51) return to the director’s chair five years after directing his haunting first feature, Dry Blood. This time he’s working from a script he wrote based on an idea by James Cullen Bressack (Tales from the Other Side, Bethany).

The film begins in the basement of a nightclub. A group of devil worshipers cut open a young woman and remove what looks like a shark tooth-shaped cocoon from her body. In the next scene, the item is hidden in the corner of a fence. A bright blue CGIus Obvious butterfly flutters around them, and a boy named Alex (Lucas Sequeira, In the Death Room) plays on the other side of the fence.

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The butterfly lands on the boy’s finger, and after a series of cult-related visions we saw in the open scenes, he collapses. His parents Ben (Jonathan Stoddard, Await the Dawn, Last Night on Earth) and Norma (Daniela Palavecino, The Fighter, Toro Loco: Bloodthirsty) rush him to the hospital where it is discovered that he has suddenly developed an advanced case of brain cancer. .

The script makes Of the Devil start off fast and in the first ten minutes of the movie we’ve not only seen but also learned that Ben used to be a priest until he left to marry Norma, “The last time she went to a priest for consolation married him.” And that Alex is talking to friends that no one else can see.

Just when I was beginning to think Of the Devil was going to be a totally generic affair, Jones pulls out a creepy sequence where Norma places a crucifix on the wall and what appears to be Jesus in the hallway behind her. And that’s what we can expect from the rest of the film, a fairly familiar plot accompanied by some extremely creepy and sometimes bloody visuals.

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And he’s all too familiar with the friendly neighbor (Eileen Dietz, Final Caller, The Exorcist) who suggests they visit a Mexican surgeon (Robert LaSardo, Project Skyquake, Death Count) who offers unorthodox treatment for the boy’s condition. Since it turns out to be more of a ritual than a medical procedure that leaves Alex seemingly dead before he miraculously comes back to life, it’s no surprise that the boy develops possession issues and Ben has to find faith in him again.

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Jones handles all of this with a fairly steady hand and enough visual flair to keep Of the Devil interesting even in the film’s slowest moments. He’s gotten plenty of help from a veteran cast that also includes Roslyn Gentle (Unborn, Prisoner: Cell Block H), Vernon Wells (Commando, Thor: God of Thunder), and Devanny Pinn (The Sunday Night Slaughter, Chase). Kelton makes a brief appearance as a police detective.

Unfortunately, some of that is undone by a rather weak performance from reality TV star Vicki Gunvalson (The Real Housewives of Orange County) as a doctor. Even more problematic is Daniela Palavecino’s performance as Alex’s mother. This is his first film in English after a series of credits in his native Spanish and it shows. Acting in a second language can be extremely difficult and you may want to take more classes before trying again.

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The effects are a bit of a mixed bag with too much reliance on low-budget CGI and simple things like crucifixes that move on their own. There are some decent practical makeup effects. I’m also not sure about the demon that was briefly glimpsed near the end of the movie, it seemed like a practical effect, but it wasn’t on screen long enough to be sure.

Of the Devil is too familiar and predictable to reach the same level as Dry Blood, and I wish it had taken more of a risk with its basic idea. But Jones gives it enough creepy moments and visual impact to raise it a bit above average.

Uncork’d Entertainment will release Of the Devil on digital platforms and VOD on August 9. You can check their Facebook page for more details.

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