DEVIL’S DOMAIN ** U.S.A. 2017 Dir: Jared Cohn. 93 mins
Madi Vodane is excellent in this variant of vintage 80’s bullied-teen-revenge horror movies (notably 976-EVIL and EVILSPEAK) for the Snapchat generation. She’s a bulimic, ostracised lesbian picked on by the bitches at school, cold-shouldered by her one-time BFF and humiliated by a masturbation video cruelly leaked on social media. She inadvertently summons a sultry female incarnation of the Devil named Destiny (Linda Bella), who proceeds to assist in removing the source(s) of her enduring misery.
Writer-director Jared Cohn’s slick, good-looking movie covers similar ground as more straight forward recent social media horrors like UNFRIENDED and FRIEND REQUEST, while adding a diverting bunch of impressive old-school gore FX: a well-deserved chainsaw-to-the-face and rack-based dismemberment are highlights. Unfortunately, it’s tonally all over the place, with an immature, leery approach to its female characters, and an awkward tendency to veer between knockabout horror comedy and serious issues. Poor writing and annoyingly broad supporting actors help ensure themes of bullying, eating disorders, self-harm and teen suicide are offensively trivialised. Coy lesbian encounters and a misjudged climactic rape reflect the schizo tone, and there’s something particularly depressing about seeing a slumming, schlubby Michael Madsen consigned to understanding-Dad roles – even if he’s the only character (other than the heroine) who actually resembles a real human being. It’s a shame that a rare genre movie with such prominent female characters ends up so disappointing and juvenile.
Review by Steven West