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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

BLOOD: Review - Spooky chills in 'Devils in the Darkness'

Bowie V. Ibarra had the privilege of previewing a Michigan-produced independent chiller called 'Devils in the Darkness'.  As an avid supporter of the works of Joseph Scott Anthony, I was excited to see what the enthusiastic and skilled movie artisan had helped put together.  What I got was a quality spooky tale with a  sci-fi edge.  There's a line in the opening scene that is a great foreshadowing of the chills to come:  "It's just further out than I thought it was going to be."

You don't even know.

Check it out.

The story is about a newbie in-house nurse/provider named Mike Hill (played by David Gries) who is assigned to take care of an enigmatic shut-in named Stanton Pinborough (played by Joseph Scott Anthony - imdb).  The place he's staying is out in the sticks.  And on his drive there, he sees these strange shadows in the woods and around the house.

When he arrives, the provider assistant is running off, claiming the house will be his tomb.  He joins the lead provider at the house named Robin Bradbury (played by Lisa Mueller).  The two are able to keep tabs on Stanton through a baby monitor on the table, where the old man can be heard coughing, wheezing, and cussing through his strange affliction.  Stanton is holed up in his upstairs room next to a small homemade ballroom that he enjoyed dancing with his wife in.

Mike learns that Robin knew Stanton when she was a kid and experienced a bizarre episode at his house.  Mike then learns Stanton somehow lost his mind and became a hermit after his son mysteriously died at the age of 7.  His wife also died under mysterious circumstances.  The guy used to have a lot of money, too, but lost all of his fortune.

So, as the mysterious shadows begin to close in on the house, and Robin disappears, Mike discovers more clues to what is happening at the house.  He finally has to find the courage to meet Mr.
Pinborough for himself and get to the bottom of the strange happenings in and around his house.

Mike is not ready in the least for what he discovers.

The cast for the movie was outstanding.  David Gries and Lisa Mueller provide outstanding and natural performances.  The two actors were totally in each moment, and their skill in front of the camera was evident, with a  consistency unlike any other independent project.  David Gries provides a sensitive character that discovers a more assertive side to his character as the movie progresses.  Lisa Mueller sets the stage for David's character and the audience, building the mystery with her dialogue.  And Joseph Scott Anthony does an outstanding job as the lunatic they have to take care of, putting energy and a little madness in his performance.

Director Daniel Falicki was amazingly skilled as well at the helm.  You can tell Falicki used the best film and equipment for the production.  Landscapes were framed beautifully, as well as the faces and conversations inside the house for the dialogue-driven early part of the film.  Good camera angles and establishing shots were plentiful.  Falicki also had a hand in developing the story, which seemed to take cues from another tension-delivering sci-fi pic, 'Signs'.  And in true independent movie fashion, Falicki also plays a part as one of the mysterious creatures assaulting the house.

Though the film concentrates on dialogue to provide the growing mystery, there's plenty of unexpected chills throughout the film from Falicki.  There were many frightening 'hiding in plain sight' chills and a distinct building of tension from the moment Mike arrives on the property that culminates into his ultimate encounter with Stanton.  I couldn't help but feel tense and stressed as the movie moved forward, and that's good.  That building of tension and mystery is the movie's strength, and Falicki maximizes its efficiency.

To accentuate the already spooky atmosphere of the flick, Tom Ashton provides a great score that heightens the frights and builds the tension in each scene.  For an independent flick, it was actually a pretty good score.

The only marks I might put against the movie is the volume.  With such natural delivery from the characters, there were times throughout the movie that I could not hear or understand what the actors were saying.

'Devils in the Darkness' is an enjoyable and chilling story with a sci-fi edge.  The film is worth a look, with a bizarre story akin to 'The X-Files' and a cast of skilled actors that take it to the next level.  It's a great example of the quality independent film scene coming out of Michigan.  Find it and watch it when you get a chance.

BOWIE V. IBARRA earned a BFA in Acting and a Masters in Theatre History from Texas State University, and worked in the film and television industry for several years.  Bowie currently lives in San Antonio, Texas, writing tales filled with zombies, blood, fights, or all of the above.

His latest title, 'Sword of the Angel', is a story of a lucha libre legacy who is searching for answers to his future in the sport when the zombie apocalypse hits.  It is available in paperback or kindle HERE.

Network with Bowie and explore his library of written works at his official website,

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