New this week On Demand, digital download, and DVD available exclusively on Amazon from Midnight Releasing!
Directed by Courtney Fathom Sell
Written by Courtney Fathom Sell
Starring Steven Manger, Jordan Lewis, Conrad Brooks, Courtney Fathom Sell, Anthony J. Anastasio, James Nash, Michael Miller, Constance Archer, Mark Baker, James Warnier, Mark Ashby, Bud Mackenzie, Susan Manger, & Bill Guthrie as Yeti!
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I love the concept of “the small town with a secret” that is often explored in horror films pitting hometown sensibilities against invading high-fallutin’ city folk. That theme is even more relevant today with the current political climate. DON’T LET THE DEVIL IN is filled with that kind of small town vs. big city conflict and while that dealt with in a potent manner, the acting in this film really takes away from any impact this film could have accomplished.
When developer John Harris (Marc Slanger) and his wife Samantha (Jordan Lewis) suffer a miscarriage, he decides to take an assignment in a small town to clear out some properties to make room for a casino. But the little Appalachian town doesn’t take kindly to city folk as the Harris’ immediately find out when their home is invaded, their personal materials are stolen, and threats to their life come with more frequency. With the local law enforcement refusing to help, John and Samantha find themselves helpless against a small town who seem like bible toting simple folk, but really seem to be a part of a secret satanic cult.
Big city/small town conflict is something definitely worth debating here as both parties seem to have major faults. John represents a powerful entity coming in and callously swallowing up land and offering small payments to those who have lived on that land for generations. And then there’s the home invasion stuff the small town resorts to in order to defend their town—not to mention the whole Satan worship thing. Again, this conflict is fun fodder to explore and actually realized quite well in this story.
But I can’t find myself recommending this film because of the shoddy acting all around. I understand that low budget means options are small in number, but pretty much all of the acting in DON’T LET THE DEVIL IN is painful to watch. Slanger’s monotone delivery is heightened by the fact that he seems to be reading straight from cue cards and while Lewis is probably the most convincing of the bunch, the rest of the cast—from delivery to pacing, are just not good. This really takes the knees out of the entire film unfortunately. I drudged through the film because I liked the themes involved, but I don’t expect most viewers to have my patience. I can’t recommend this film, but do recommend the filmmakers to be a little more picky when it comes to casting your film. While you might have a good story, the choice of actors are the most crucial step in making a movie most of the time because they are the ones communicating that story. In DON’T LET THE DEVIL IN, the acting simply isn’t on par with the ideas behind the story.