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The Devil seduces a vulnerable high school girl
A group of mean girls mercilessly bully a high school girl through social media, driving the despondent girl to strike a deal with the Devil. Devil’s Domain has standard meat-and-potatoes horror storytelling but its wild, unpredictable ride is pure fun and carnage, once the story gets going. The special effects and its over-the-top prosthetic make-up for the Devil’s true form is nicely rendered for an indie production.
Writer and director Jared Cohn’s movie doesn’t break any new ground mining the emotional trauma many confused teens experience in high school. What it does get correct is an interesting combination of gore and frights into what could have easily turned into a half-baked after-school special.
Devil’s Domain is ultimately about the bad choices made by confused teenagers under emotional duress. Lisa (Madi Vodane) is a high school girl suffering from a number of issues after her best friend rejects her lesbian advances. Isolated and feeling alone, she copes in silence by stuffing herself with junk food and throwing it up in true bulimic style.
Lisa doesn’t really connect with her family at home, including her overworked mother and a stepfather that wants to help her, played in a small role by noted character actor Michael Madsen. Madsen is the only recognizable face in the cast. His small role doesn’t particularly stand out but he gives a solid performance that doesn’t require much thought.
When one of Lisa’s friends betrays her by posting a secret recording of her throwing up and masturbating, the high school girl’s already shaky world falls apart. When a mysterious older woman offers her comfort online, Lisa falls prey to the Devil (Linda Bella). The woman invites Lisa to a smoky night club filled with sexy couples and what appears to be a lot of drugs.
The sins of the flesh prove a strong temptation for the lost Lisa. After a swift seduction, the Devil offers Lisa an enticing deal she can’t turn down. Lisa will become a beloved, famous star if she turns on the high school crowd that destroyed her on social media. Lisa’s tormentors will have the tables turned on them in a horrific manner. There is always a catch when striking a deal with the Devil, which Lisa soon learns.
Somehow the crazy story works…
Somehow the crazy story works…
There is a certain off-kilter charm to the performances in Devil’s Domain. Linda Bella isn’t a great actress but her awkward line delivery is actually enduring in this cheesy b-movie. Her seductive devil rears its demonically ugly form when necessary. The make-up is surprisingly menacing for this kind of indie fare made on a lesser budget.
The one nice thing about Devil’s Domain is that the “high school” kids in the cast actually look like high school kids, and not late 20-somethings like most Hollywood productions. Madi Vodane is a capable actress and sells Lisa’s emotional turmoil as the movie’s protagonist. Her performance is the necessary thread that prevents Devil’s Domain from turning into yet another forgettable b-movie.
On some level, Devil’s Domain morphs from sober examination of teen bullying into an all-out satanic thriller at some point. Somehow the crazy story works, especially if you enjoy the Devil as a horror antagonist. Making the Devil a woman flips the usual script, though a bizarre baby plot gets introduced that should have been axed or changed.
Devil’s Domain is firmly in campy b-movie territory. You’ll definitely laugh at some of its more bizarre developments, but that energy helps propel it through 90 minutes of horror insanity. It’s never going to win any Oscars but makes for solid rental fodder.
MVDvisual distributes Devil’s Domain for Cleopatra Entertainment, the film division of music label Cleopatra Records. For an indie horror production made with RED cameras, Devil’s Domain offers fairly crisp definition and clarity in 1080P video. The 91-minute main feature receives an adequate AVC encode on a BD-25. A few stray compression artifacts do crop up in the 2.39:1 presentation.
Some scenes suffer from degraded picture quality due to the extreme color grading. Certain scenes flash crimson red when the Devil appears on screen in costume. Exteriors exhibit better detail and clarity, typical of a recently made RED production. Interiors are materially softer, lacking the razor-sharp definition and high-frequency content seen in the very best HD. Several moments have instances of crushed black levels, dropping shadow delineation a notch.
Devil’s Domain looks good for an indie horror production and holds up quite well at 1080P resolution.
Given the extensive array of music performers featured on the soundtrack, from rap group Onyx to acts like Luna 13, including only lossy audio is a slight disappointment. All we get is a standard 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack at 384 kbps. Dialogue and musical fidelity are heard in clear sound quality. The surround mix does spread the music and F/X around the entire field with distinct channel separation. No subtitles are included.
Devil’s Domain has a rocking soundtrack given its Cleopatra Records’ pedigree. It’s a lively, upbeat musical experience that works for the horror movie. The audio design isn’t state of the art for a horror film but works for the indie production.
A couple of featurettes and a director’s commentary comprise the disc’s special features. It’s a nice cross-sampling of the cast and crew going behind the scenes, including comments from virtually everyone in the cast. That includes a few snippets from Michael Madsen, the one known commodity in Devil’s Domain.
The Devil Made Me Do It (06:15 in HD) – This behind-the-scenes featurette interviews cast and crew in this light overview of the production. Footage from the set bolsters the cast interviews, including a look at the Devil’s arduous make-up process.
Red Carpet Premiere (08:05 in HD) – Apparently shot earlier this year, we get younger members of the cast getting interviewed on the red carpet.
Devil’s Domain Trailer (01:46 in HD)
Audio Commentary – Writer and director Jared Cohn gives a somewhat disconnected solo commentary. A little preparation would have made this a more insightful, thoughtful elucidation on the film. He does fill in a lot of small production details that most viewers will overlook.
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.
Summary A seductive female devil preys on a vulnerable teen girl bullied for her bulimia in this b-movie teen thriller.
A seductive female devil preys on a vulnerable teen girl bullied for her bulimia in this b-movie teen thriller.
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