M.L. Miller here! Welcome horror fans to my Annual countdown of the Best of the Best in Horror! Running every day through October, this list will culminate with the best horror film of the year announced on October 31st. Some of these films can be found in theaters—others have unfortunately only seen the light of day On Demand, DVD, BluRay, or digital download. I’ve tried to indicate in the reviews how you can watch and enjoy these films yourselves. I’ll also provide a “Worth Noting” secondary film suggestion in a separate post. These are films that stood out or just missed being on the list by a skosh—a little extra for those who can’t get enough horror.
How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st 2018 and September 30, 2019 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number, 31. This countdown is not for the elitists or festival goers, so if the film hasn’t been released to the masses, it won’t be on the list. Also anything released this October will most likely be on next year’s list—so sorry, no films like DOCTOR SLEEP or ZOMBIELAND 2 just yet.
I hope you’ll join me daily and don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
#18 I TRAPPED THE DEVIL
The mane says it all. I TRAPPED THE DEVIL is a low fi masterpiece that feels like an extended TWILIGHT ZONE episode. The concept is fantastic, as well as the wonderful atmosphere filmmaker Josh Lobo was able to create. Pair that with the creepy voice of a man behind a door who could or couldn’t be Satan, and you’ve got a bonafide chiller on your hands. Right up to the end, this is a great ride. Released in April 26, 2019, here’s my review of I TRAPED THE DEVIL! Available on digital download, BluRay/DVD, and On Demand from IFC Midnight!
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
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.
THE COUNTDOWN SO FAR…
#18 – I TRAPPED THE DEVIL
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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