Stars: Michelle Argyris, Shantelle Canzanese, Vanessa Broze, Kevin Jake Walker, Wayne Conroy | Written by Greg A. Sager, Geoff Hart | Directed by Greg A. Sager
I’ll admit it, when I saw the original synopsis for The Devil In Me (which is also known as Devil Seed, which tells you a lot more about what happens in the movie than the UK title) I thought it was merely a knock-off of The Devil Insideand the similar “possession” flicks that have been flooding the market recently. However now having sat down and watched the movie my opinion has completely changed… Yes, The Devil in Me is yet another film about possession, but it stands head and shoulders above its competition thanks to a superb performance by Michelle Argyris as Alex – the young student undergoing the supernatural torture – and some fantastic creepy imagery from director Greg A. Sager, who certainly has an eye for the off-kilter and eerie.
The Devil in Me tells the story of college student Alex, who returns to live with her roommates, Jessica and Breanne, after visiting her sick Grandma over the summer holidays. On her first night back and following a long night of drinking, Alex is agrees to a psychic reading which, as they tend to do in horror movies, goes drastically wrong. When Alex awakes the next day, she can’t remember the events of the night before, however she begins to hear creepy noises, hallucinate, black out, and receive unidentifiable scratch marks all over her body. Afraid she’s going crazy, she turns to her school professor and his father who have dealt with the supernatural before.
Lensed in Canada by first-time writer, producer, editor and director Greg A. Sager, The Devil in Me is one of those films that will, sadly, get over-looked by many who will instead seek out the bigger-budgeted and much better marketed. But it doesn’t deserve to. It is head and shoulders above any – and I mean any – recent possession flicks (I really can’t stress this fact enough). Watching the film reminded me of The first time I saw The Exorcist: the anticipation of what was to happen, the awe at the films twisted visuals and a complete appreciation for the movies leading lady… And it’s the aforementioned leading lady, actress Michelle Argyris, that makes the film work. With a performance that makes her character instantly likeable and completely vunerable, Argyris (who I vaguely remember from a brief appearance in the comedy series Blue Mountain State) holds your attention throughout the film.
But its not just Argyris. Director Sayer makes some superb directorial choices too. From the glorious jump scares, which even made this genre-watching veteran jump at times, to the fantastic way in which he develops the characters through what is essentially audience manipulation – he chooses to show how much of a bastard Alex’s boyfriend is in the first five minutes of the film (he’s sleeping with one of her roommates) and that instantly makes you feel more empathy for Alex, and as her friends and roommates all abandon her, the audience can do nothing but feel sorry for her. Director Sayer also pushes the sexual aspect of demonic possession, much in the same way that The Entity did in 1982, only Sayer takes it to a very twisted level, with rape, torture and much more (one scene in the kitchen has to be seen to be believed, trust me). And he keeps it coming, amping up the tension to ridiculous levels before launching into the films fucked-up finale.
I always suspected Canada made the best horror movies and The Devil in Me just proves it. Not afraid to both follow genre conventions and break them, The Devil in Me is out now on DVD and digital download from Lionsgate.