Directed by David Winkler, 2005
The stuff found trawling through On Demand. The plot description spoke of a deadly online game. The cast list included Jensen Ackles, Shannyn Sossamon, Dominique Swain and “Bill Sadler”. The running time was 90 minutes, a perfect match for the 90 minutes I was looking to kill. Started alright. Ackles as a college kid named Jake whose best friends are A) Conrad, a stoner who creepily looks like he desperately wants to slip a girl some GHB, and B) Dakota (Swain), a platonic hot friend who looks like she desperately wants to be slipped some GHB. On Jake’s 21st, Conrad signs him up for “The Pathway” an online game that requires you to surrender all your personal info in order for the game to dial into your life, giving you tasks that must be performed.
The concept is not unfamiliar and has been done elsewhere better, but whatevs, it didn’t take long for large, full body prosthetic demons to pop up and for all of the ‘players’ to start losing grip on reality. I was actually kind of getting into the movie. Jensen Ackles was into his role, Shannyn Sossamon had shown up in a redhead wig looking as nice as ever, people were dying and I felt set for a not surprising, not disappointing trip to Mehs’ville.
Then the movie kept chugging along, despite the fact that time as I knew it had frozen. The thing felt as if I had been watching it for days. A group of Satanists came into the crumpled fold and by film’s end I had no concept of what I had just seen. How easy is it to go from resigned mediocrity to bat shit script silliness? I applaud Adam and Seth Gross. They took a C grade script and built it into a mushroom cloud of nonsense. No one can ever say they didn’t finish what they started.
I hate them for that.
It is hard to hoist the things about the film that were tolerable early on considering the final stop is so…short bus. Jensen Ackles is a nice anchor, Sossamon is a nice face. Had demons, tongues cut off, pencils into necks and at one point Dominique Swain has awkward sex with Ackles on a chair (throws of passion or epileptic thrashing?) Yes, the editing was painful. Constant flashbacks and waking nightmares. Director David Winkler went so far as to show a flashback for something we saw no less than 3 minutes earlier. Yet even with all the ill dressing, it was palatable.
Then the derailment. All its faults cease their role as a few flies in the room and become a seething swarm of flies in your ear canal. The plot sells out any sensibility it had. Someone on IMDb actually wrote, “The story line was perhaps the weakest part of the film, and for me the ending was predictable”. That guy must be an effin’ savant, because I don’t see how anyone could prophet the ending of this flick considering it has no relation to the majority of what precedes it. I don’t blame William Sadler for requesting he be credited as Bill Sadler.
I’m the kind of guy who will watch junk knowing its junk. Watching poor filmmaking doesn’t do my head in, particularly not when the folks in question were on a budget and everyone involved was doing it for the paycheck. I’m fine with that and, in a lot of ways, I have a strong respect for those kind of people. For more refined audiences, movies like DEVOUR are externalities of the entertainment industry, but for me they’re often just experiments that put food on the table for many families. Someone has to walk down a rental isle, click through Netflix or scroll down Comcast On Demand and go, “What the hell is DEVOUR?” and that person may as well be me. But I should have known better the second I saw “Produced by Neil Moritz” in the opening credits. That man is a stain upon our genre. While DEVOUR isn’t quite the PROM NIGHT remake, it is a droll bit of unsuccessful cinema I could never, ever recommend to anyone.
I bet Moritz is the clown who came up with the film’s tagline, “Don’t get mad, get evil.” You’ll never know, because you’ll never see the movie, but that has no relation to anything else. Neither does that cover art or the title. Only an ass would push for something like that.
An ass like Neil Moritz.