I TRAPPED THE DEVIL (2019)
aka A MAN IN THE DARK
Directed by Josh Lobo
Written by Josh Lobo
Starring AJ Bowen, Scott Poythress, Susan Burke, Jocelin Donahue, John Marrott, Rowan Russell, Chris Sullivan
Find out more about this film here
Though if you’ve seen Mickey Keating’s breakout hit P.O.D., you may feel you are watching a familiar narrative, filmmaker Josh Lobo does a hell of a lot right in his directorial debut. I TRAPPED THE DEVIL is a tightly strung and surprisingly patient mental scab of a film that just can’t seem to stop picking away at itself.
AJ Bowen and Susan Burke play couple Matt and Karen, who decide to visit his brother Steve (Scott Poythress) for Christmas. Since their mother died, Matt and Steve have been distant and this is a return home for Matt, as Steve was left with their mother’s home. Unbeknownst to Matt and Karen, Steve has captured someone and locked him in the basement. This someone, according to Steve, is the Devil himself.
In P.O.D., a brother and sister go see their reclusive brother who claims to have trapped an alien in his basement. Here, the alien has been changed to the Devil (voiced by Chris Sullivan), who attempts to convince, tempt, and coerce anyone within earshot to let him out of the basement Steve has locked him in. While we don’t really get an explanation as to how Steve has accomplished this feat, I TRAPPED THE DEVIL doesn’t really need it as the story seems to have been pared down to bare basics. It’s just three people debating about what to do with a person locked in the basement and discussing whether or not that person is actually the Prince of Darkness. In order to make this film something worth watching, the cast has to be stellar and for the most part, it really is. AJ Bowen proves once again that he is one of the strongest genre actors around as Matt, who doubts his brother’s sanity and carries quite a bit of familial resentment. Susan Burke’s Karen is strong as well as the middle-woman, supporting Matt, but still attempting to help Steve, who is obviously hurting and in a bad state. Scott Poythress lacks the star potential of the other two actors, but he does play a weak and mentally unstable character very well, allowing the viewer to both feel for and hate him in equal doses as the story unfolds. To add to it all, Sullivan lends a pleasant and bizarrely normal voice to Beelzebub from behind the door. All of this playing together makes for a film that never lead me to look at my watch once.
On top of all of that, filmmaker Josh Lobo utilizes extreme camera angles, fantastically intricate set décor, and dazzling lighting to make every scene memorable. From beginning to end, this is a film that looks like every shot was meant to count. I TRAPPED THE DEVIL is not for those who need a shock a minute, but for the patient, you’re going to be wowed at what Josh Lobo has to say with this film and you’ll look forward to the bright future he has ahead of him. Plus it adds another present to be opened over and over for the Christmas season.