It’s rare when any horror film grips me from beginning to end. Too often the modern iteration of the genre doesn’t understand the subtle nuances of terror, which as a lifelong fan is rather depressing. But as the screen darkened and an eerie introduction ran through its motions it became clear to me that this was going to be a different experience.
Compliments for the physical and technical elements within the narrative are worth noting, but it’s the guiding hand of Nicholas McCarthy that deserves the spotlight. The writer / director steered this ship with a level of confidence that bleeds through the screen as a consistent and engaging affair engulfed every frame. With that said some of the lines of dialogue came off a bit static. And this is not the first cinematic romp with the Devil, but it may be one of the few that knows what it wants to be.
Beyond that though there is a plethora of performances that gave life to this smartly executed romp. Ashley Rickards (Hannah) opens the piece with a presence that screams genuine, as she takes us all on a journey with a girl that’s now engulfed by forces beyond her control. And when you add in Catalina Sandino Moreno (Leigh) and Naya Rivera (Vera) the entire journey gets some anchors in reality as it steadily goes through an in-house evolution. It would also be remiss not to mention young Ava Acres (Girl) who offers a terrifying turn that could easily make or break the final product. Despite these considerably good marks, the side characters that exist in between honestly never offered anything that could be called attention grabbing.
There’s always one final element that takes down, supports or emphasizes any movie. Especially in this genre the soundtrack needed to be mood setting in a way that never cheapened the ultimate outcomes while not spoiling moments that called for a surprising entrance. Ronen Landa happened to do a fine job delivering something that sticks, while yielding a score that breathes in the shadow of an already fully functional monster. The end result is a fitting, although a tad bit typical, backbone that does exactly what it needs to do in just about any given situation.
At the Devil’s Door is an easy film to review because the people behind this particular work came together and made something that deserves attention and praise. It’s a tightly knit yarn that moves steadily towards its conclusion in a simplistic succession that maintains enough of its demonic streak to never stop terrifying its already captive audience. It could be said that several of the plot elements that live within this narrative may seem familiar, but that recognition doesn’t hold enough water to deny the quality of the finished product. In the end it handily comes recommended.