Movie Review: At The Devil’s Door is Atmospheric, but Unsatisfying

Movie Review: At The Devil's Door is Slow and Unsatisfying

At The Devil’s Door has its some beautiful dark and atmospheric moments, but somehow forgets to be scary.

As someone brought up with a religious background, movies about the Biblical apocalypse and demon possession always scare the crap out of me. Every time I watch The Exorcist, I have to sleep with the lights on. So I was hoping with a movie titled At The Devil’s Door , I would be completely freaked out, but, unfortunately, it didn’t.

At The Devil’s Door has a plot that starts out simple enough, but somehow gets a little convoluted. It begins in 1987 with a girl going to some weird sage-like guy to “play a game.” Okay, good, we already know that means something bad is going to happen. So she plays the game and is told to go to where the streets meet (Supernatural fans would call this a “crossroads”) and say her name so that “he” will know what to call her when he calls. Of course, said girl is all “Ha, Ha, really funny,” and does exactly that. So you know at that point, bad stuff is going to happen.

And it does. The story then jumps back and forth between what happened to that girl in the past to what’s going on now because, obviously, the demon-thing isn’t satiated.

The problem with the story is that it spends so much time in exposition that there aren’t any really solid moments of horror. The movie goes off on an atmospheric tangent, setting up the story. It does a good job of building up the tension, but it gets caught up in that, so that there’s never really a good pay-off.

Part of the issue is dialogue that sounds forced and unnatural. I mean, who says things like, “I just want her to find someone and have kids,” about their sister to a perfect stranger? Who says that at all? But it’s meant to be a set-up to tell us about her sister, but that really should have been left to the actress playing the sister. There were a few other moments that I would have rather seen than been told about, too.

I don’t mind stories that do what I call “the slow burn,” and build up to a fantastic climax, but this movie never really builds up into anything. It gives a good tease, but what I call that “Oh, sh**” moment never comes, that moment when all hell breaks lose and the roller coaster starts going down fast. There’s no crazy downhill here, though. It’s all so even and slow-paced.

I did like Glee‘s Naya Rivera in this movie, but I think she needed more to work with. She is likable, even playing this dark character. But so much is spelled out early on, that nothing she does comes as a surprise, not even at the end.

I love horror movies and I wanted to love this one, too, but it never grabbed me in a way that made me care about the characters or jump when the baddies came for them. Granted, horror movies aren’t usually about characters, but I feel that more could have been done to bring this movie’s story to life.

I you want to see for yourself, At The Devil’s Door is currently available on-demand digitally and will be released to theaters on September 12th.

Note: I was given a screener for this movie. A huge thanks to IFC Midnight for letting me check it out.

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