THE DAMNED Aka: Gallows Hill. *** USA 2014 Dir: Victor Garcia. 87 mins
Peter Facinelli and fiancée Sophia Myles – dismissed as a “gold-digging bitch” on Facebook, so you know it’s true – are in Columbia on the brink of their wedding to reunite with Facinelli’s teenage daughter (Nathalia Ramos). They all get stranded when a storm floods the roads, and are forced to take refuge at a long-closed inn, where the toilets are shitty, roaches roam the showers, the innkeeper warns that rosary beads won’t “protect them” and the discovery of a traumatised little girl triggers sundry unpleasantries.
Atmospheric and well crafted, THE DAMNED does a nice switcheroo in terms of its central threat, cleverly letting the audience know more than the characters and subverting early expectations. Confined to a single main setting with a small group of disparate characters, it delivers some real chills, even if its plot boils down to a variation on the EVIL DEAD remake, complete with self-mutilating possessees. Building to an eerie, downbeat denouement, it has a strong central evil force – a throaty-voiced, ancient witch able to exploit everyone’s secrets / fears, and genuinely unkillable, because any attempt to destroy her results in you being turned into the next hapless meat puppet.
Review by Steven West