REVIEW: Devil’s Domain
– By Dave Dubrow
DEVIL’S DOMAIN, written and directed by Jared Cohn, is an outrageous horror film. Outrageous in that after watching it I was outraged that its purported $500,000 budget wasn’t used for something worthwhile, like bringing clean water to villages in Africa or feeding the homeless. Despite Michael Madsen’s four minutes of screen time, there is nothing good that can be said about this movie. From acting to script to story, it’s awful beyond belief.
I’ll quote the storyline, available on IMDB and written by Jared Cohn himself: “Devil’s Domain tells the story of LISA POMSON, a troubled, social media obsessed teen, conflicted with her sexuality and her parents misunderstanding of her. When Lisa gets secretly filmed binging, purging, and masterbating [sic] the video goes viral and she suffers extreme cyber-bullying. Suicidal, and on the brink of insanity, a beautiful, mysterious stranger (the Devil) strikes up an online relationship with her.” There’s more, including a description of the ending, but I wouldn’t want to spoil the film for you.
The movie might have gone somewhere. It might have addressed themes of social media, cyber-bullying, Faustian bargains, bulimia, or even masterbating [sic] with some measure of depth. Failing that, it could have gone the other way, veering into exploitation. It does neither, and occupies an uncomfortable middle ground where aging high school girls walk around in unsexy underwear and are occasionally murdered for no good reason by a French model who pontificates on the nature of good and evil with the depth and passion of Siri giving directions to the supermarket.
Lisa, the hapless protagonist, lacks the ability to evoke even the slightest hint of pathos, making her victimization a dry, rote affair. Her mother is needlessly cruel and stupid, and her stepfather, played by Michael Madsen, attempts to provide parental guidance in his gravelly, smart-alecky voice, but we all know his heart isn’t in it. The Devil, a woman in this case, calls herself Destiny, and is given to purring out lines like, “The world is yours, Lisa. For your taking.” Mmm.
The murders of Lisa’s tormentors pile up, and nobody at Lisa’s school takes the slightest notice. A vague shape of a plot clumsily reveals itself in the last five minutes of the film, leaving behind more questions than answers. Blood flies. Young(ish) girls scream and are tortured to death. But the most horrific thing about the movie is Destiny’s dime-store philosophizing. I pray I shall never be subjected to it again.
Nobody watches an indie horror film with Bridge on the River Kwai-levels of expectation. And I’ve gone on record, in this very space, as liking a number of trashy movies. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything to like about Devil’s Domain. Maybe you will. Check it out and let us know what you think at The Slaughtered Bird.