A Pastor and a Teacher. Two pillars of
the small community of Triune whom together share a dark and Unspeakable Secret: The common Enemy of an ancient Demonic Terror.
Written By: Joshua Bruening
Directed By: Joshua Bruening
Indie filmmakers all seem to have one thing in common: They gravitate to the horror genre for their first set of films. I've always believed "that" something, that pulls a new(er) director into the genre, is the chance to make a film that relies on atmosphere over big budget effects. Sure, other styles have atmosphere, but none are more reliant on a "feeling" than a good horror flick. Since a feeling is all about style, the reasoning is that it can be done within the same tight or non-budget as any other style. If done well, It's a huge feather in the cap for any director/producer. Experienced or not.
As you've guessed, "The Devil's Hour" is one such horror film. Contained within the script are huge ambitions with next to no cash. The very blood of what we've come to consider an indie production. It's all here; the good, the evil, and some genuine creep out elements, all stuffed inside a two hour package. Penned and directed by Joshua Bruening, there's a lot of meat to chew as you navigate the eerie waters that is the "The Devil's Hour". A lot of meat indeed. So much in fact, I couldn't help but think a little trimming would have made a massively positive impact. They say the devil is in the details, but in some cases the complete opposite is true.
Now comes the part of our reviews I hate writing. The technical aspects. Understanding that an indie film lacks funding and at times, may be a directors debut production, I always try to "not" pull any punches when writing this section of a review. My thoughts are that an unbiased and truthful eye always makes for a better "next film" and at times, some changes can (and are) often made within the reviewed film itself.
As important as any story, shot composition or actor, is the pacing and edit of a film. Indie or studio. In the world of independent film, a writer/director often wears many hats and in most areas this pays off. However, when it comes to editing everything together I always, say to get someone else to do it. Maybe you can't afford a "real" dedicated editor, but most of us know others in the indie industry. Even if our "insider" friends have the same experience we do ourselves, it always makes a better picture if you get them to edit it. A less biased eye. "The Devil's Hour", more than anything else, suffers when it comes to the pacing, which in turn is mainly an editing issue. For me, the movie was simply much longer than it should have been. A thirty to thirty five minute cut would have improved this film on so many levels. Leaving in only what was needed, driving the narrative forward while at the same time only containing the absolute essentials. As the writer and director, Joshua Bruening should never have put himself in the editors chair for one simple reason... it's his film, his baby. He wanted to keep everything and thought everything was essential. Most indie directors have done this, and most regret it when asked a few years later. "The Devil's Hour" simply holds numerous shots that should never have made the final cut, such as a "stock" shot of a jail cell being opened, followed by the rooms interior (and door) clearly not being the same. A simply cut to the interior, without the lock would have been enough. We also have some general weirdness, such as a surveillance camera pointing inside a bathroom, or a detention cell labelled: "Detention room for kid killers". For future consideration, please note that a detention room is a detention room. Segregation is segregation. Jails do not have dedicated rooms for child killers. Another thing to note is that any jail would not have peeling paint and plaster, or any object sitting around that one could harm themselves with. Keeping a semblance of realism helps keep us in the film. Unusual instances like the ones I've listed above remind us this is a movie... and an indie one at that.
The audio, for the most part was well done. A few spots exist of "indie audio", volume and tone issues, and dropouts. Surprisingly however, not many. As far as indie productions go, the audio actually turned out really well. My ears thank you. One thing I should note is with the scoring itself. There was a lot of it! Generally, scoring is not used through the majority of a film. It's used to add drama when needed. "The Devil's Hour" seemingly has music playing throughout the entire film! After a while, it looses it's effect and makes us think there's something to hide.
Special Effects anyone? I'll keep this brief. We all want them but sometimes, less is more. The unusual effect used to represent the "demon" quickly looses it appeal. Very quickly. We don't need to see this effect every time for us to know who is talking. I, personally think this effect should have been saved for the ending sequence. It should also have been done right. Seeing all the "Andrew Kramer" styled veins over the grey face is cool... but not so cool when they move all over the place. Instead of using this effect all through the film, it should have been used at the end. The time saved could have been spent perfecting the effect when it was used, instead of allowing us to see the glitchy version throughout the entire movie.
Finally, I'd like to touch on the acting itself. Honestly? I was impressed. The cast of "The Devil's Hour" did a fantastic job in their respective roles. Many of the flaws I've listed above were easily counterbalanced by a great group of actors. Well done! You should all be patting yourselves on the back.
In the end, "The Devil's Hour" is easily an above average film. A little long winded, but interesting and well told none the less. With any movie, one should always put their best foot forward. Don't settle. If you know something looks wrong... fix it! If something doesn't fit... make it fit or cut it. Never settle for anything less than you can manage. The average viewer doesn't care if it's your first or third movie. They don't care that you had no budget. To them, a movie is a movie. They like it or they don't. Always put your best foot forward. In the case of "The Devil's Hour", we have a great flick to kill some time. If you love religion based horror... you'll love it that much more! Joshua Bruening may not have the next big Oscar winner here, but this is by no means a dud. The interesting premise and some good acting chops easily pull this film past the mediocre mark and make it one I would happily add to my own collection.
Other Reviews That May Interest You