Built as a supernatural horror film, I Trapped The Devil pits a highly interesting premise for a directorial feature debut, and Josh Lobo’s passion project certainly aims high in what is essentially a strong drama-led piece.
The premise follows a couple, Matt and Karen who pay a visit to Matt’s brother Steve, a man who is clearly troubled following the death of his wife, Sarah. Steve is also harbouring a secret… he claims to have imprisoned the devil himself in his basement, but is this a figment of his imagination as he slips into the recesses of a depraved mind, or has he somehow managed to actually ensnare the prince of darkness?
For a film that is weighted in dialogue and exposition on the realms of power, control, action and inaction, it requires someone with the acting prowess to pull off the gravitas of the piece. So, one of Lobo’s masterstroke is in the casting of mumblegore alumni, AJ Bowen (You’re Next, The Sacrament) as Matt, who molds his character to the scenario and makes the predicament a believable one, and produces genuine reactions arising out of his performance. He is also ably supported by Scott Poythress as Steve and Susan Theresa Burke as Karen, and the trio provide enough of a hook to keep you engaged during the grittier moments.
Too often though, there are gaps in the drama and these wallowing moments in the film feel stagnant at times, as though we’re sinking into a quagmire of gloom. Visually this can be hard to connect with the storyline and sends the audience adrift as a result.
With a bit more experience I feel that Lobo could generate more ambience out of those lull moments, but in this case, he papers over the gaps with music to stimulate or invigorate mood.
The shifts and changes in drama are the strongest component in this film with a superb cast and Lobo ably plays with the psychology and past of three characters and how they interplay with one another when thrust into a strange and surreal situation, ramping up the tension.
It does suffer from the downbeats in the movie though and as such can be a struggle to watch.
- Saul Muerte
I Trapped The Devil is available to view via Video On Demand
or buy from Umbrella Entertainment.