New this week on DVD and available On Demand November 14th from Vega Baby!
Directed by Adam Ripp
Written by Adam Ripp, Oliver Robins, Paul Todisco
Starring Luca Oriel, Alison Fernandez, Tessie Santiago, Rick Ravanello, Marcos A. Ferraez, Coy Stewart, Justin Tinucci, Jasper Polish, Julia Modesto, Olivia Negron, Luna Maya, Benjamin A. Hoyt, Steven Shaw, Violkys Bustamante
While films like GET OUT get a lot of buzz behind them, and it is a buzz-worthy film, it’s interesting that a film centering on Latino experiences with horror doesn’t get more attention. Having recently reviewed the somewhat wholesome, but still quite effective little Latino vampire film AARON’S BLOOD, it’s both surprising and nice to see another film comprised mostly of Latinos telling a mature and competent tale of terror. This time, the horror du jour is demonic possession, a culturally ripe theme in terms of Catholicism and the Latino community.
Alex (Luca Oriel) is a well-intentioned and smart 15 year old who plans to become a Catholic priest. While he struggles with his attraction to his childhood crush, he still knows the church is the path he plans to take and he has the full support of his strongly Catholic family. But when Alex discovers a seamless box in an old armoire belonging to his grandparents, his faith and well being are threatened by a demonic force. Struggling between his personal feelings of right and wrong and the demonic influence to act out on more primal, less wholesome actions, Alex finds himself in a battle for his own soul that only he can fight.
What struck me about this film was the strength of its ethical and moral core. Alex is a good kid and is about as noble and wholesome as they come. His family prays before meals and goes to church. But while these actions might be scoffed at in common Hollywood films, here it is seen as a strength and surprisingly presented as cool. Alex has a good group of friends who do both stupid and fun things. After the prayer, the father Marcos (Marcos A. Ferraez) leads the wave through the family’s held hands. It’s refreshing to see a family presented in this light in this apathetic and sarcastic day and age. Presenting the family in this light is something we often saw in the eighties horror films such as POLTERGEIST, where an unseen force invades a family, but modern films like INSIDIOUS present the modern family as disconnected, aloof, and fractured. Here, the family is a whole and it adds to the conflict in this film that a demonic force can crack through that familial core to get to Alex.
DEVIL’S WHISPER is not an over the top effects extravaganza. It’s subtle and evenly paced, never rushing moments of tension and horror as the unseen force creeps into his world. Alex is shown fighting the demonic influence and the entire process of him succumbing to the temptation doesn’t happen overnight. This might make the less impatient viewer look at their watch and wish the pace sped up, but the film is to atypical to so much that is out there today that I have to support it’s patience in carefully plotting out a possession by inches. Sure it makes for a couple of redundant scenes here and there, but in the end, it feels more realistic than simply floating above the bed and spitting pea soup overnight.
Apart from some choice four letter words, DEVIL’S WHISPER is a pretty wholesome little film about a good kid and a solid family being challenged by evil incarnate. There are some dark themes that give this one some teeth that are revealed late in the film that add to the blanketing dread this film kind of exudes. All in all, though, this is a well acted, morally secure and mature, and deftly constructed little low key possession film worth checking out. It doesn’t reinvent the subgenre of possession flicks, but it adds a new capable and rock solid installment into the pantheon.