September 23, 2013

Devoured (2012)

"An intense, troubling film, boasting a spectacular lead performance from Marta Milans, DEVOURED calls to mind such bleak and visceral late '70s NY urban dramas as TAXI DRIVER and DRILLER KILLER in its expert depiction of alienation and escalating horror."

The synopsis from describes "Devoured" so perfectly that there's very little I need to add. That product description absolutely nails it, uses the word "visceral" correctly, and reminds me of the days when I used to write such concise one or two sentence reviews instead of rambling on to fill up a blog post. For someone who doesn't often suffer from nostalgia, I miss those days a lot.

But as I wouldn't be me if I didn't have my own two cents to add, I will just say that I haven't enjoyed any "low-budget" movie as much I did this one. According to the IMDb, the estimated budget was only $1,500,000. That's still a huge amount of money for normal people, but hardly anything in movie industry terms, so maybe that's one of the few points in any independent movie's favour which I'm willing to concede. You don't need hundreds of millions of dollars to make a good movie if you know what you're doing, but the caveat is that you really do need to know what you're doing.

Although this is Greg Olliver's first horror movie, he's been around for a while making award-winning rock documentaries. His IMDb profile page details how he learnt his craft the right way by going to film school and then working his way up in the industry, so he isn't one of the half-arsed hobby horror filmmakers. The result of his knowledge and experience is that he has created an impressively adult "descent into madness" drama here which, despite its obviously Poe-like elements, isn't predictable at all.

Maybe I would have noticed some flaws if I hadn't been so captivated by Marta Milans as the lead, but the attention to detail is such that I doubt there are any important ones anyway. I would like to say that Marta Milans is to "Devoured" what Gretchen Lodge is to "Lovely Molly" (2011), since they both give outstanding performances which carry the rest of their respective movies, but that wouldn't be a completely accurate or fair comparison. It also wouldn't be fair on everyone else involved. Movies are a team effort, after all.

Everything about "Devoured" is as close to perfection as the budget allows. The cinematography is excellent, and from the script by Marc Landau to the smallest acting role, this is a classy, thought-provoking, and thoroughly engaging production. There are some movies which can draw you in as if you're living in them, and "Devoured" is certainly one of them. Whether you would actually want to live inside another person's nightmare is, however, another matter.

For an American movie, "Devoured" has a very European atmosphere and grittiness about it which means that it's bound to be a bigger success overseas, even if it's only for a niche audience. Such slow burns with great characterisation are unlikely to be so highly praised by the teenage slasher crowd who just want to see boobs and blood, and that's a real shame, but stranger things have happened. No matter what your age or tastes, if you call yourself a horror fan, you owe it to yourself to see this movie.

As far as I know, "Devoured" is currently only available from as a DVD or Blu-ray. Hopefully, a US version will start appearing in stores soon. Keep an eye on the official website for further details.

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