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DVD Review: At the Devil’s Door

Poster for Nicholas McCarthy's At the Devil's Door.
Poster for At the Devil's Door.

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At the Devil’s Door follows Leigh, a successful, young real estate agent as she is tasked with selling a home with a very dark past. As Leigh begins to look into the history of the house, she encounters the runaway daughter of the couple who are listing the property. The runaway child involves both Leigh and her sister Vera in a web of supernatural mayhem that puts all of their lives in danger. At the Devil’s Door stars Catalina Sandino Moreno (Magic Magic), Naya Rivera (Frankenhood), and Ashley Rickards (American Horror Story).

At the Devil’s Door jumps around a lot. It doesn’t really settle on a single character as its protagonist for more than thirty minutes at a time. There are multiple would be leads introduced–one after the other–and none of them are terribly compelling or relatable. If each character were well developed and easy to identify with, this strategy could have worked brilliantly. It is unconventional and somewhat unexpected, which could have easily worked in the film’s favor but as it stands, it just didn’t work.

There was not nearly enough explanation regarding the motives of the character that set the events on which the film is based into motion. I was left wondering why exactly she would do such a thing and what she got–other than a very negligible monetary compensation–in return. It’s really difficult to get behind a film where the viewer doesn’t understand or appreciate its characters’ motivations. It’s not a big leap from not understanding to not caring and that was one that I made rather quickly.

I was a little bored with At the Devil’s Door right from the get go and that boredom only grew over the first hour. In the third act, things do pick up a bit but not enough to really sustain the interest of the audience or to make the painfully slow first two acts any more bearable. At the Devil’s Door does not deliver nearly the same level of tension that director Nicholas McCarthy brought to The PactI had really high expectations for McCarthy’s sophomore feature film effort and I came away very disappointed.

Although At the Devil’s Door starts to pick up steam in the final act, things revert back to the pace adhered to for the first sixty minutes by the end of the film. And when it finally comes, the ending is anticlimactic. Though it was intended to be mysterious and ambiguous, it really just further cemented my dislike for the picture as a whole.

There have been an onslaught of Rosemary’s Baby-inspired thrillers released over the past few years and the last one I really enjoyed was The House of the Devil. At the Devil’s Door is just one of many and it will likely prove forgettable to the majority of horror fans. Hopefully this will serve a final nail in the coffin of this overplayed and heavily saturated sub-genre.

Shifting gears a bit, the one thing this picture has going for it are the effects. They are more grandiose than what we see in Nicholas McCarthy’s pervious film, The Pact. I’m not for sure what his budget was on this title but it was likely substantially higher than his last outing and that is evident in the FX work. Unfortunately, that just isn’t enough to rescue this title from being bland and ultimately not very entertaining.

The DVD release comes with a making of featurette and deleted scenes with optional director’s commentary. I would definitely try before you buy with this one. At the Devil’s Door was released on home video today. And not surprisingly, it’s already on Netflix. So, you can check it out for yourself if you have the urge. I wouldn’t suggest that you rush out and watch it but suit yourself.

WICKED RATING: 3/10  [usr 3]
Title: At the Devil’s Door
Director(s): Nicholas McCarthy
Writer(s): Nicholas McCarthy
Stars: Catalina Sandino Moreno, Naya Rivera, Ashley Rickards
Release: December 16, 2014 (DVD)
Studio/ Production Co: IFC
Length: 91 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Supernatural Horror

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Written by Tyler Doupé
Tyler Doupe' is the managing editor at Wicked Horror. He has previously penned for Fangoria Mag, Rue Morgue Mag, FEARnet, Fandango, ConTV, Ranker, Shock Till You Drop, ChillerTV, ComingSoon, and more. He lives with his husband, his dog, and cat hat(s).
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