Devil, the Hellevator

Devil

The movie I’m about to tell you about is called Devil, but it should have been called Hellevator or had a tagline like that. “Devil,” psh. That’s about as creative as naming your pet hamster Rodent. As far as Satanic horror movies go, it’s not actually very scary. It gets super tense at parts through utilization of flickering lights coupled with unusual deaths, but never really steps into that jump-scare territory. That’s what happens when the entire movie occurs in a malfunctioning elevator and you’re not allowed to know who the one making trouble is, I suppose. Not a lot to work with.

Devil begins with a priest dying by falling out of a rather tall building, and a narration describing a priest dying and how that kind of thing usually means Satan is up to shenanigans. Then, five people get into an elevator and it enters inspection mode. Then, the lights flicker and someone gets bit. You may be hoping they turn into a demon zombie, but they don’t, for which I am profoundly sorry. The security guards watching via the elevator’s camera call the police to defuse the situation, which brings Detective Bowden to the scene.

DevilBowden is a recovering alcoholic who lost his wife and daughter in a hit and run car accident several years prior. That might seem irrelevant, but it plays an important role later on, so hush. He’s the one who doesn’t believe in the Devil because he thinks people are bad enough on their own. Ramirez, the religious security guard and narrator of the beginning of the film, gives him some guff for it, though they eventually join forces to take on Satan in a loose, moralistic sense. You can’t actually fight Satan, I don’t think.

Anyway, here’s the lineup of people trapped in the elevator in case you want to sleuth who the devil is before you watch the movie, if you even plan on it:

  • Ben Larson, a temp security guard.
  • Jane Cowski, an old woman.
  • Vince McCormick, a scumbag mattress salesman.
  • Tony, a former mechanic and Afghanistan veteran.
  • Sarah Caraway, a rich and tricky young woman.

DevilBy the way, Sarah Caraway is played by Bojana Novakovic. That’s a name I haven’t heard since Drag Me to Hell. That one and Devil are similar, though the latter lacks a sense of humor and focuses more on being a moral lesson, the lesson being “you better not do nasty shit or the Devil gon’ come round and kill you dead.”

Josh Tyler of CinemaBlend is quickly becoming my favorite movie reviewer around. According to him, Ramirez knows the secret of the Devil. He knows it super good-like because his grandma told him. He just doesn’t tell anyone until everybody’s already dead. You should read this other review because it’s silly and clever and I like it: http://www.cinemablend.com/reviews/Devil-4849.html

Light Reading Turns Dark in Ninth Gate

Ninth Gate

Cancel the search party, we found him: Johnny Depp in a crappy Satanic horror movie called Ninth Gate. I only call it crappy because it’s one of those forgettable Netflix once-offs that’s lovely to see once, but any more than that and we’re going to have a problem. The problem is, the protagonists are too pretty. Both of ‘em. Johnny Depp and Emmanuelle Seigner? Get to the sex scene unprepared and you might rupture a blood vessel. Get to it several times, and you might rupture a lot more than that. That’s a joke, see.

Ninth GateAs I was saying before you interrupted me, Ninth Gate is a film about collectors of Satanist literature, and the things they will do to see their goals through to the end. Dean Corso is a dealer of rare books, and a scoundrel when it comes to undercutting his competitors, and it is for that very reason that Boris Balkan hires him to hunt down one of the rarest pieces of Satanist literature known to man: The Ninth Gate of the Kingdom of Shadows. More than a book hunt, Corso is hired to validate the authenticity of the remaining three copies of this ancient, eeevil tome.

On the flipside, Lena Olin, the wife of the man who sold Balkan the sacred Satanist work, wants her property back at all costs. “At all costs” to a worshipper of the King of Demons should have obvious implications, suffice it to say she plays the part of the antagonist up until the moment in which she doesn’t.

Ninth GateThroughout his journey, Corso is offered assistance by an unnamed girl with an air of mystery about her. At least, that’s what is intended. If you’ve even an inkling of how Satan works by movie standards, you’ll know exactly which role Emmanuelle Seigner fills with her evasive half-answers, curious disappearances, and glowing eyes. Spoiler alert, of course, but it doesn’t play a very large role in the greater plot. No, the sex scene isn’t a part of the greater plot. Get off my back, you.

I would say Ninth Gate would go down best preceded or followed by Rosemary’s Baby, as the two have thematic similarities that blend well. If you’re hoping Johnny Depp will make this one great, you’ll be disappointed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t kill some time watching him fend off cultists in goofy robes.

Ninth GateTotal Film pulls no punches in saying that Ninth Gate is just another heaping helping of Satan’s leavings. Unoriginal, uninspired, the like. Ninth Gate is standard as far as throwaway horror movies go, which leads me to believe that the only reason this review was so brutal is because of Depp’s presence in the cast. I could be wrong, but good actors in bad movies tend to yield such brutal reviews. Here’s the alt review so you can see if I’m right: http://www.totalfilm.com/reviews/cinema/the-ninth-gate

Rosemary’s Baby is Throwin’ Up the Horns

Rosemary's Baby

Rosemary’s Baby comes from a tiny, self-generated time period where Satanic horror flicks were considered pretty in-fashion and thus deserved a nice cast and crew. It tells a tale of an innocent Catholic girl who moves into an apartment with a dark past, and slowly descends into a conspiracy against God and humanity. That sounds pretty epic, I’m sure, but the story progresses cautiously, giving you time to notice the oddities and signs that lead to the Devil. I like the acting, I like the setting, I like the film. Let’s roll.

Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse are a young married couple looking to rent an apartment in Manhattan. Guy’s looking to secure a better career as an actor, but his luck isn’t doing much for him. Rosemary’s a child of strict Catholic upbringing, estranged from her parents due to their detesting Guy’s mixed Jewish/Protestant upbringing. She is satisfied to be a housewife to her husband.

Rosemary's BabyGuy’s career takes off when his rival suddenly goes blind, a very spontaneous misfortune indeed. With his future growing brighter, he decides to ask Rosemary to have a baby. Hence the movie’s title. Apparently having had studies Rosemary’s ovulation cycle, he holds a “baby night.” On that very night, Minnie Castevet, an older woman met earlier on, brings over a chocolate mousse for the two to eat. Rosemary doesn’t like it because of a chalky undertaste, and Guy gets pissy at her for being ungrateful. She eats what she can and dumps the rest.

Enter the dream sequence. You see a lot of things here, like the Pope, Rosemary sans some clothes, a Satanic ritual, and Satan getting funky with the poor, drugged lass, and a bunch of old yet familiar people standing around and watching. One could infer that the perceived events are false, but this is a Satanic horror movie. Anything that would make the main character look “crazy” is obviously real.

The pregnancy doesn’t go well. Rosemary experiences excruciating pains, but her doctor (recommended to her by Roman and Minnie Castevet, their nosy neighbors) says that it is normal. Fearing for her baby’s well-being, she invites a bunch of her young friends over for a small party to get their opinions on the matter. They immediately show concern and practically order Rosemary to stop seeing the quack and get a second opinion. Once the party is over, Guy is particularly vehement that Rosemary sticks with her current doctor. Right as she’s about to shout him into a corner, the pain stops.

Rosemary's BabyIt isn’t quite all well and good from that point, though. Signs of a Satanic cult begin to pop up, centering around a strange book that hints at a plethora of anagrams. Suddenly, Roman Castevet’s name begins to ring quite a different bell. But I’d rather not spoil the end of the movie for you.

After doing a bit of reading on the film, the entire plot could very well be an analogy for Rosemary’s discomfort with marrying a man who wasn’t Catholic born and raised. Think about that. Marrying a Jewish/Protestant man to a very devout Catholic might make her associate him with the Devil. But that’s just fan speculation, so don’t put too much faith in it. No pun intended.

Drew Morton of Pajiba points out that Rosemary’s Baby is more of a religious psychological thriller than a horror movie, since elements like visual terror and startle factor are completely absent. As it were, the film itself is almost a word-by-word cinematic adaptation of the novel of the same name by Ira Levin. Very rarely do you see such fantastic book to movie transitions, so even if you haven’t read the book, Rosemary’s Baby is probably worth the watch. And, as I mentioned, Mia Farrow is cute as hell. Gander hither: http://www.pajiba.com/film_reviews/rosemarys-baby-review.php

The Omen: Political Demons

The OmenFor this particular religious horror movie, I am not going to be going in-depth with the plot. Because the plot is entirely irrelevant. How can that be, you may ask? The Devil wins. Now that I’ve spoiled it for you, the plot is irrelevant. Let’s talk about the flawed characters and obnoxious aspects of this movie instead, because that’s much more fun.

First off, the scheme. A cult of Satanists murders the newborn child of Robert and Katherine Thorn, replacing him with the son of the Devil. For whatever reason, they decide to name the kid Damien. Like Demon. He has black hair and blue eyes, and he likes to stare at dead bodies. Animals are afraid of him. Who wouldn’t realize that this kid is evil at heart? Seriously. Anyways, the endgame of the plot is that Damien murders his entire family and inherits his father’s political throne, then destroys the world with war by controlling the brain of the President of the United States. First off, that wouldn’t work because the president is just a figurehead role, and lacks the political power to actually destroy the world. But I guess Damien’s Satan, so he can just use his demon magic to fiddle with the other politicians until they turn evil as well. I don’t care.

The OmenAnother complaint. Robert is made deputy of the Ambassador of Britain. This is relevant because the ambassador is being driven down the street in Italy, and the whole Satanic sequence of events starts up, the guy sees 6:06 and six seconds on his watch, and a gasoline tanker truck slides down a hill and crashes into his limo. Oh, also, a hobo flicks a cigarette onto the ground nearby. You know where this is going. Here’s the part that bothers me: As the stupid ambassador’s car is being flooded by gasoline coming in through his window, he tries to open the door that’s blocked by the truck. You know, instead of trying to move AWAY from the gallons of flammable liquid pouring onto his face. So what the hell, man? Don’t ask.

More people die, like Damien’s nanny, who hangs herself at the kid’s birthday party. Then, Father Brennan comes along and starts warning Robert about Damien being the son of the Devil. True to the course of most vanilla horror movies, Robert doesn’t believe a word he says. Father Brennan comes off as a little crazed, but he’s one of the Satanists that wound up regretting his actions, so I suppose he has the right to be a little insane. Point being, Brennan’s right, Robert’s stubborn. Game over, man.

The OmenMia Farrow winds up as Damien’s new nanny, by the by. You remember Mia Farrow, don’t you? She was in Rosemary’s Baby, played the pious girlfriend who wound up giving birth to the Devil’s child? Similar roles, eh? Funny little world.

Anyways, plotwise… Everyone Robert loves dies, and he finally listens to the now-dead Brennan’s advice to meet the priest Bugenhagen in order to kill the Devil within Damien. Even the cameraman who helped Robert for a while, pointing out weird stuff in pictures that led to the photographed person’s death. Finally, with nothing else left to lose, Robert sets out to kill Damien by stabbing him to death in a church. His security team winds up tailing him and gunning him down before he can manage to get the first knife in. As I said, the Devil wins. Cue Damien standing next to the president and smirking victoriously back to the audience. Fade to black.

The Omen is an okay movie, the main problem being that it takes itself too seriously to the point of being insistent and preachy. But alas, it’s a super-religious movie in which the righteous try to fight the forces of malevolence. You can watch it for the scares and thrills, or for the action, or even for the religious morality, but no matter what you watch it for, it’ll shortchange you. As I said, it’s okay. Not good, not bad, just okay. You can watch it if you want. It’s nothing special. Good for background noise during a slumber party, I guess.