Short Film Feature: Devil’s Work
Review written by: J.C.Walsh
Devil’s work, a short film directed by John Rodas, is a horror thriller about a woman trying desperately to escape her dark past of her psychotic ex-husband. But what Mary will learn is that obsession runs deep, so deep that not even the grave can contain such a corrupt passion. .
The Horror short opens with ominous headlines from a newspaper revealing a bad accident had occurred involving driving under the influence. Its ending result was death. The eerie opening with its nerve tingling music sets up the audience for a story riddled with secrets ,that may unravel towards a haunting truth, one with supernatural speculation.
Fast forward to 7 years later, present day. Mary and her husband Michael are hosting a dinner date with close friends Lexi and Leo. While in amidst of post dinner drinks, which consist of many glasses of red wine, the conversation between the two couples is light and full of laughter. Like any close friends enjoying a good buzz, they have fun and poke jokes at each other. But then the conversation takes a dark and twisted turn. Taking them down a road where things could suddenly appear from the shadows when the headlights are quickly shone on them. Before she continues on with the conversation Mary puts her two children to bed, knowing all too well where their words would take them. This is the type of grown up talk children should never hear, best be safe tucked in bed where the boogeyman of grown ups can’t harm them.
When Mary returns to the dinner table, the conversation hasn’t changed while she was gone. Why should it? It is about her ex-husband Blake, and his grip on their past is something that will always retain its hold. But even with the terrible things that have happened, the conversation is still full of laughter and jokes, as if this would help ease the pain of the past. When the lights flicker, the couples joke about Blake’s psychosis and how he believed he had special powers, like controlling electricity. But when Lexi is attacked in the upstairs bathroom, Mary finds that if she doesn’t confront these demons head on, it’s not jus the life that could be in danger, but she’ll have to fight to save her family as well.
Within its running time of 12 minutes Devil’s work showed us so much. We shouldn’t dwell on the past, no matter how dark of a shadow it could cast over our lives. Something could be inside those shadows, hungry, and trailing our every step. Invoking such a thing in any way will give away our scent, and before we know it the past will have us cornered helplessly against a wall. Devil’s work has been in many film festivals. These include Horror Film Awards 2016, Independent Horror Movie Awards, and most recent Something Wicked Film Festival which nominated Devil’s Work for most atmospheric. That couldn’t be any more true. Not relying heavily on gore, the film uses old tropes from supernatural horror films that have been seen before, but its atmospheric build is truly something that can draw you into its shrouded, mystery from beginning to end. The rest relies on the performance of the actors. The way their conversation can transition from casual to an uncomfortable situation and at the same time continue a joking nature is a challenge in dialogue, and is something accomplished through great directorial skills, a well written script and talented acting. This handling of dialogue helps build the tension and keep it there, right to its frightening conclusion. Kudos to Sean Carmichael for fleshing out the character Blake. His presence is terrifying, and could make for an awesome villain, a new boogeyman for fans to think choice before turning the lights off. If done properly, the story could be brought to life as a full length feature. Because Devil’s Work showed so much but at the same time left plenty to the imagination within its running time, the short film could play off successfully as an opening to a 90 minute version of the film.
If this is the direction John Rhodas and company are going, then horror fans need to keep an eye out for future works in the horror genre. With Devil’s Work they brought soemthing enjoyable that is short and right to the point. An horror short that has substance to create an atmospheric, and almost gothic film with eerie music and three dimensional characters that bring something fresh within the sub genre of supernatural films.