Devil's Den – DVD Review

Directed by:
Jeff Burr

Starring:
Devon Sawa …. Quinn
Kelly Hu …. Caitlin
Ken Foree …. Leonard
Karen Maxwell …. Candy
Dawn Olivieri …. Jezebel

IDT Entertainment presents Devil’s Den. Written by Mitch Gould. Running time: 84 minutes. Not Rated. Released on DVD: February 13, 2007. Available at Amazon.com.

The Movie


It’s hard to make a movie when the subject matter is extremely similar to a largely favored cult hit. That’s why all the films that try to capture The Rocky Horror Picture Show‘s charm seem to always crash and burn. Or why any movie that now comes out surrounding a strip club and demonic strippers immediately gets pinned as a From Dusk till Dawn knock-off. So before it even begins playing, Devil’s Den has that stigma playing against it. Which isn’t fair because there are enough things going wrong here without the need for that comparison.

The movie is about two friends, Quinn and Nick, returning home from their trip to Mexico where they picked up a large parcel of Spanish Fly in hopes of making a mint off of gullible college kids back home. When Nick questions the actual legitimacy of the long debunked drug they stop by at a seedy strip club on their way back home to test it out. The club, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, should have tipped them off that something was foul when there was no cover charge at the door.

Inside they attempt to slip a few girls the pills but soon all hell breaks loose when the strippers soon turn in to flesh eating ghouls. When that happens our heroes meet up with both Caitlin and Leonard who are the only people in the club packing heat (and a samurai sword). The movie is then basically the four main characters sitting around spouting off lines of dialog that even they can’t believe they’re saying and then chasing after the evil strippers of the damned for the good of man kind.

Devil’s Den seems to be trying to revert back to the B-pictures from the 80’s and 90’s, where things always appeared different but underneath were all nearly exact duplicates. They’re attempting to mimic all of the campy movies we’ve come to know and love, but trying to be camp and actually being camp are two separate things. The people behind those old pictures were under the belief that they were making something legitimate, an actual piece of work. When you go in to making a movie with the only intention of copying those charms, you mostly walk away with a movie filled with winks and nods but no story to make it worth watching.

It’s as if writer Mitch Gould simply watched all of the Quentin Tarentino and Kevin Smith movies along with any bargain bin horror DVDs he could find at his local dollar store and decided to use those as his sources to construct a feature film. Now, with that kind of madness, one would assume that there’s something in Devil’s Den to point out as a positive, but there isn’t. Which is a shame considering how it’s nigh impossible to make a bad horror movie. No matter if it’s good, bad or so bad it’s kinda good, there is always an audience that will find your movie and like it for what it is; Devil’s Den fails to accomplish that.

There are three separate people being credited as director on this film (Jeff Burr according to IMDB, Andrew Quint according to the opening credits and Andrew Dunt according to the DVD packaging), and it’s easy to understand why. The actual filming, editing and blocking of the film are something you might expect from a film student working on their first feature. But instead we have Jeff Burr sitting behind the camera, who has been working for close to two decades now. How he could just sleep walk through out the entire film is beyond me. It all comes off as if a group of friends rented out an abandoned building, added some cheap rope light for decorum and then started filming with no preparation whatsoever.

They slow down the frame rate when it should be sped up, speed it up when things should be slowing down and then, when they’re not screwing that up, completely miss the point of camera blocking entirely. Considering they built the sets from scratch in a warehouse, I can’t believe they didn’t take in to consideration the placement of the camera. Instead of trying to conceal the limitations of their budget, they instead practically put a big, bright shining spot light on them.

Acting is another Facet of the feature that just falls flat. The only person who seems to be making any effort in putting out a decent performance and is completely aware of the type of film he’s making is Devon Sawa. Everyone else is either taking their role too serious or not serious enough. We have Kelly Hu who seems to just be spewing out lines from memory in a very flat monotone voice with little in the way of emoting the characters actual feelings, Karen Maxwell playing the airhead waitress seems to be reading off of cue cards that were written up mere minutes before film started rolling and Ken Foree is in a completely different movie all together based on his work here.

This might go down as one of the worst films I see in 2007, not a single shred of originality can be found here. It’s like a rejected entry from Tales from the Crypt. With laughable sets and people sleeping through their performances, this is just not a fun movie watching experience for anyone. Not even a “so bad it’s good” caliber feature. It wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the creators feeling so complacent with mediocrity.

The DVD


Video:
(Presented in 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen)
The film quality varies from scene to scene, some look as crisp as digital photography can deliver while others look about as grainy as 16mm film. The movie as a whole is equally inconsistent where some scenes looks like they belong here while others look like they hired a random guy off the street to handle the camera.

Audio:
(English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and English 2.0)
There isn’t much to say when it comes to this part of the review, the audio selection is very average. It has the same song selections you would find when watching any low budget horror flick. They do use the rear speakers and bass to a nice degree, but they mainly stick to the front speakers.

Extras:

Feature Length Commentary – Writer/Producer/Stunt Coordinator Mitch Gould, Producer John Duffy, and Composer Jon Lee sit down to talk about making the movie, but very little is actually revealed while listening. Mostly talking about the shooting schedule, small budget, prosthetic effects and the actresses they hired as strippers, they spend most of their time talking about things one could easily assume by simply watching the movie by itself. The most annoying and frustrating parts are when they make mention of their limited budget and filming schedule but go about it in a very roundabout way never going in to detail on either topics.

Belly of the Beast: The Making of Devil’s Den (13:29) – After watching this it’s nice to see that the cast and crew had a fun time on set. If only that could have translated in to the final cut of the movie. They cover all of the major parts from making the movie here, from casting the film to the prosthetic effects, to the amount of time and effort that went on to the stunt work. Even the music selection and scoring of the film is talked about here. Overall, this is a nice “making of” where it doesn’t feel like they’re trying to over hype or continuously sell you on the movie. Just showing all the hard work that went in to making it.

Devil’s Den: The Blooper Reel (10:59) – The best stuff here comes from both Devon Sawa and Ken Foree, both guys appear to have had a ball while making the movie. Kelly Hu, on the other hand, hates it when people get in here shot and/or light. The audio is a bit hard to make out at times, but there are certainly a few gems to be found here.

Rounding out the disc are a Photo Gallery and a copy of the Screenplay that can be accessed by putting the DVD in a DVD-ROM.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Devil’s Den
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

2
THE VIDEO

6.5
THE AUDIO

5
THE EXTRAS

4
REPLAY VALUE

1
OVERALL
1
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

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