Evil from the Sky! “Devil’s Gate” review!


In the small rural community of Devil’s Gate, Oregon, a boy and his mother disappear without a trace. FBI Special Agent Daria Francis spearheads the investigating to atone for a regretful previous child disappearance case. She’s accompanied by a local deputy, Colt Salter, to assist her. During her brief investigation upon arriving at Devil’s Gate, Agent Francis comes to the determination that Jackson Pritchard, the father and husband of the missing boy and mother, is directly involved in their sudden disappearance. The investigation turns from a seemingly straight forward, open and shut case to a colossal mystery that’s beyond their comprehension when arriving at the religious dogmatist’s boarded up and disturbing cladded farm house where unearthly forces lay claim to the Pritchard family home for sinister reasons. With one of the beings caged in his basement, the desperate Pritchard seeks an exchange with the creatures he labels as the fallen angels in attempt to regain his wife and son, but as the night falls, trapping Agent Francis and Deputy Salter with Prichard inside the residence, they become surrounded by the fire in the sky creatures aimed to reap not only the world, but their souls.

Like an enigmatic report straight from the non-redacted portions of a nail-biting X-Files case, “Devil’s Gate” is a we are not alone sci-fi horror film from 2017 under the apocalyptic eye of director Clay Staub and co-written by video game plot scriber, Peter Aperlo. The considerably financed project is the first feature film for both filmmakers in their respective roles with Staub having served as an assistant director on other paranormal plotted projects like Zack Snyder’s heavily praised remake of George Romero’s flesh-eating zombie classic, “Dawn of the Dead,” and Matthijs van Heijningen’s underrated “The Thing,” a prequel to John Carpenter’s film of the same title. One quality that we can all can be pleased about is that Staub carries over from his previous experience as a genre filmmaker participate is the use of gore in the “Devil’s Gate” because, honestly just by looking at the cover and reading the plot, the bloodletting expectation was low on the totem pole. Staub doesn’t unload a gratuitous splatterfest of alien and human entrails, but subtly sanctions the right amount of extrasensory chest bursting and finger snapping goo that plays an ill-fated role of circular or motivational circumstances for the characters.

Putting the pieces of the Pritchard mystery together is Agent Francis who is a to the point and tough national law enforcement officer with a bleeding heart complex after her very first assigned case went tragically sour that looms an unexplainable root cause cloud over her straight blonde hair. Desperate to cure her past, Agent Francis rushes into Devil’s Gate, bypassing the notable chicken fried steak meal offered by Deputy Salter upon her tarmac arrival and defying the local Sheriff’s heed to not interview husband Jackson Pritchard, that sorely causes her to land in the virtually the same predicament of just trying to get the right thing done no matter the unclear ancillary evidence. “12 Monkey’s” television star Amanda Schull spearheads the character with the characteristics aforementioned with drab appeal, lacking the emotion and the intensity her character is supposed to be exhibit when trying to solve a case of personal redemption as well as the fear from an higher ominous power that can shoot lightning down from the sky and flash velociraptor toe-claw sized fangs. Colt Salter might be a small time, Podunk deputy, but the born and raised Devil’s Gate officer can match wit with his FBI counterpart. Salter strikes me as a character who doesn’t stray far from home, mentioning various times, in various ways, his parallel path to high school friend Jackson Pritchard. Shawn Ashmore, from Joe Lynch’s “Frozen,” opposites his costar Schull like Mulder and Scully type as well as an all-around good guy who happens to stray from his protocol path once Agent Francis puts her federal fingers into his already investigated investigation. Like his performance in “Frozen,” “X-Men” franchise, and even in FOX’s television thriller “The Following,” Ashmore is a pretty solid actor, showing a range of emotion that transcends him from easygoing deputy to mortality fearing when mankind’s on the verge of extinction comes into the equation. An equally solid performance by Milo Ventimiglia, who recently starred in “Creed II,” really sells the crazy portray by Jackson Pritchard, a God-fearing man with a long lineage of misunderstood family heritage that leads him to the uncanny bombshell that has been bestowed upon his family farm. Ventimiglia, in his roughest, toughest country twang, creates such an anxiety-riddled and frantic character that unravelling his fate is not too clear which is refreshing to be able to retain mystery to a role as we can kind of figure out how Agent Francis and Deputy Salter when fair in the end game. Rounding out the cast is Bridget Regan (“John Wick”), Javier Botet (“Slender Man”), and “Star Trek: The Next Genergation’s” Jonathan Frakes, still sporting that iconic beard even if it has grayed, as the town Sheriff.

In spite of some really cool visuals, especially of the man underneath the mask, Javier Botet, inside a ghoulishly white extraterrestrial suit that only his elongated and thin body (and perhaps also Doug Jones’) could snuggly fit into, “Devil’s Gate” tells a narrative that hails from a lot of re-spun material. Whether intentional or not, viewers more than likely won’t be able to help themselves as they’ll eagerly point to the television screen and say, ““Independence Day” did that first,” or exclaim, “didn’t Donald Sutherland star in the same kind of thing???” I know I did. However, Staub and Aperlo don’t completely ape the concepts that surely haven’t inspiring them, making the effort more endearing, and visually crafted a well-blended plot into an enjoyable and captivating story; a story that has been mostly devoid of underlining messages and symbolism other than the themes of religious zealots are extremely bad for the world and living with past regrets can be hazardous for your health if not properly accessed. “Devil’s Gate” focuses more directly on just entertaining another version of visitors from another world and how those no-so-little-green-men play an assimilating role into humanity.

Umbrella Entertainment releases “Devil’s Gate” onto a region 4 DVD presented in widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The vast Midwestern landscape with the foreboding rolling clouds stretches from top to bottom with an exact sharpness and crisp from the digital picture. The textures in the broad, yet barren-esque fields look especially detailed, more so with the wind and brownish-yellow color. Speaking of color, the hue is a filter of shadowed purple and on a sepia side that works the dread atmosphere. The English 5.1 Dolby audio track has ample range and depth. Lightning strikes boom equally from the five channels, alien shrieks trembles through, and the dialogue is not obstructed. Surprisingly, there are no bonus features with this release as the Stateside counterpart even has a trailer in the extras. There isn’t a static menu either as the film goes right into play feature mode. c

Horror Short: Happy Halloween

Here’s a little horror short from director Adam Green (“Frozen” (2010), Hatchet) and starring Shawn Ashmore (“Frozen” (2010), ‘The Following’) and Brea Grant (“Halloween II” (2009)). Everything seems normal between a husband and wife chatting over Skype on Halloween night until the truth comes out and a turn for the worst is revealed!

Kevin and the Evil Cult! The Following (Eps 8 review)

About time we have a more passionate episode making us care about characters who have been dormant for too long. Perhaps the anticipation came to the edge of the boiling point and finally spilled over unto the flame. Will this be the turning point for the characters? I hope so – fuck! I’m tired of Ryan Hardy chasing the tail of his nemesis. I’m tired of Weston being a geeky waste of space. I’m tired of Joe Carroll speaking in riddles. In this episode, Ryan gives respect, Weston is strong, and Carroll has ultimate power or mind control however you would like to label it.

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Also, the refreshing part about the episode is how the characters’ roles have reversed. Carroll is out and free with a hoard of acolytes to do anything for him even kill themselves – devotion that is almost non-existant in today’s world unfortunately. Ryan feels constrained by his new boss, Agent “Asshole,” and is stuck within the confines of the law but wants to break free by beating down the captures acolytes.

Of course, I was wrong about who Rodrigo turned out to be with Rodrigo being a man and not the super cute cougar Agent Debra Parker. Rodrigo turns out to be a better character, but a character we have not seen before. However, we can understand where Rodrigo pulls his influence and how Rodrigo became a part of Carroll’s crew. Carroll isn’t the only power house character to have a devotee; Ryan Hardy has Weston who was kidnapped, beaten, and stab to protect a very important secret on the behalf of Hardy. Weston has finally earned Hardy’s long becoming respect.

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I’m certainly looking forward to the next episode to see how the characters unfold and to see who my be the next surprised acolyte, but I have a hunch, and I’ll probably be wrong again like I was with Rodrigo, that there might be a friend within the Carroll following. Stay tuned.

Kevin Bacon and the Evil Cult! The Following (Ep. 3 review)

The Following is the new hit horror thriller that audiences can’t get enough of and I see why!  With every twist in the story, the anticipation grows until you find yourself on the edge of the soft, neck arched toward the screen, and your mind with racing with what will happen next?  Episode three had a couple of betrayal, a couple of big deaths (already!) and another couple of the homosexual kind.  Every character is likable because every character has an interesting disposition about themselves.

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In this episode, Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) and his Debra Parker (Annie Parisse) find that being duped sucks and can cost lives.  With these two main characters on the fence about who to trust, who can the audience trust?  I still don’t trust Debra Parker nor do I trust golden boy FBI agent Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore).  There something about these two characters that seems off, but this could be the result of the way the story is unfolding and perhaps intentional by the writers to have the audience second guessing your judgement.  The jury is still deliberating on these two.

I’m craving to see more of Joel Matthews son, Joey Matthews, being taught how to kill by starting with animals.  The ultimate Charles Darwin theory – nature versus nurture.  Will Kevin Williamson play on that and see if nurture over comes nature because Joey is an innocent kind with his action figures and his affection for mom, but his kidnappers are teaching him that death is okay, that you should embrace death and treat death as a constant reminder of how precious our lives are to ourselves.  My gut feeling is yelling at me telling me that Joey’s mother Claire will be more than just a bystander and will go to the extreme in finding her boy.  After years of watching horror and thriller movies, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have years of experience in deciphering what might happen next.  This sounds a bit presumptuous on my part, but one can only speculate on how the writers will take this series.

The fake gay couple next door to Joey’s first victim Sarah on in the first episode are actually, and secretly, hot for each other creating turmoil and deceptiveness among the three homicidal individuals.  When you mix in a menage a trois with killer instincts, you have a recipe for a good episode next Monday night!  Until then, keep watching!

Kevin Bacon and the Evil Cult! (TV Series – Eps. 2 Review)

like-killer-475x703I’m hooked.  I’m all about The Following because we don’t know who has fallen under Joe Carroll’s twisted spell, his literary sequel to his first 14 female victims.  Ryan Hardy is now the center of this story and he’s still able to play Carroll’s game by sometimes being one step ahead of the brilliant Carroll.

Episode two focuses the kidnapping of Carroll’s son from his mother, Jordy, the serial killer apprentice, and his first kills,  and more background on the two fake gays and the nanny who are following Carroll.  The police are always two steps behind a man who is incarcerated, but Hardy manages the see the pieces of the puzzle.  There is a new agent on the scene who claims to be a cult specialist, but we don’t know where her loyalties lie because she visit Carroll in prison and without saying a word to the murderer, she hands him a book of Edgar Alan Poe’s work.  Is this a sign that she is also under his influence and could play a more sinister role against Hardy?

One thing I forgot to mention in the last review was the going back and forth in years.  We retrieve much of the backstory not through only exposition, but also through a non-linear story that goes back to when Carroll was murdering or just after he was arrested.  I much rather have the story play out this way because just by exposition alone takes away from darkness of the story.  Fox has yet to let up on the brutality of story’s nature and so far I’m grateful for that.  We explore Anna (or Emma) and her past.  She is an awkward child who grew up disturbed because of her degrading mother.  Carroll’s influence was easy on this one.

I can’t way for episode three and I look forward in dissecting more of The Following.