October 30, 2014

VOD Review: The Devil's Hand (2014)

The Devil's Hand has been finished and sitting on the shelf since sometime in 2012, another example of a studio holding a movie back because they know it's a mess.

LD Entertainment has produced/distributed some great movies over the past few years (The Grey, Killer Joe, Disconnect, The Collector), and some stinkers, the biggest of which was The Haunting of Molly Hartley, which The Devil's Hand feels a lot like.

So why is any of this relevant to us? Well, because now it's pretty clear to us now that when LD Entertainment gets behind Rated-R projects, they turn out far better than do the PG-13 ones.

Movies of different ratings are different beasts, and The Devil's Hand is a great example of why Horror fans cringe when they hear the term PG-13 attached to a movie that they're curious about. A film's rating matters, and especially when a production company trims and cuts their project to fit a particular one.

All of this is to say that LD Entertainment should have let this one go full Rated-R, and it probably would have been a better movie. There's a good movie in there, somewhere below the cuts, edits, and teases, it's just disappointing to us that all we caught were glimpses of what it could have been.

On the 6th day of the 6th month of whatever year, six Amish women give birth to six daughters, thus kicking into motion the prophecy of the Amish Antichrist... whom one of the six girls will become at the stroke of midnight on their 18th birthday. You see, it's all because 6+6+6= 666. We did the math.

After one of the mothers kills herself and her baby on that fateful night, the other five girls grow up with their whole village eyeing them as if they are The Devil's Hand itself! It's gotta be tough being Amish to begin with, but it's gotta be even worse when all of your Amish friends want you dead. Or shunned. Not that there's a huge difference between the two, really .At least not in Amish circles.

As the girls' 18th birthday draws near, bizarre and terrifying things begin to occur: The Town Elder (Elder Beacon) gives the girls naked examinations to find out exactly "where the Devil hides"; one of the girls, Mary, is having terrifying visions of the other girls being murdered; and oddly enough, the girls begin showing up murdered, one by one, just like it happened in Mary's visions...

Is one of the girls The Devil's Hand, or are Amish people just way too paranoid? Will Mary survive to see her 18th birthday, and uncover the mystery behind her visions? Is the answer to "where the Devil hides" in fact :Elder Beacon's pants?" Far be it from us to spoil anything for you here, but suffice it to say that we're pretty sure that the Devil hides in the vagina's of 17-year-old girls... at least that's where Elder Beacon seems to search for him the most, and shouldn't we always trust a God-fearing man of the cloth when it comes to the bodies of our children?

This is a tough one to dissect, because it's a well-made movie, and we enjoyed watching it for the most part, but it's so dull and uneventful, that we're not exactly sure why we kinda liked it to begin with. It's good, but it's really not good at all.

We're really confused by the whole thing, to tell you the truth.

There are many reasons that keep The Devil's Hand from being a good film, and here are the biggest of them:
  1. The movie felt to us like it had been edited, and then re-edited to the point where it lost its focus. With the way it teased some gory and naked moments, was this movie originally a Rated-R Horror flick, cut down to PG-13 levels by some asshole who wanted it to have a wider appeal? Feels like it, and the funny thing is, it's been cut & watered down so much that it has even less appeal than it would have had if it had just went full-on Rated-R to begin with. Funny how that works.
  2. This movie was formerly titled "Where the Devil Hides" which is interesting, because in the movie, there's a scene where Colm Meaney makes a girl get naked, and he starts rubbing her up, telling her that "the Devil hides in our sinful bodies." So either they were originally planning on making the whole creeper thing a bigger part of the story, or they just randomly threw that scene in there "just because." Odd.
  3. They should have gone for it with the gore, and focused more of the story on the Supernatural aspect of things instead of making it play like a teenage romantic melodrama for most of its runtime. Show us the kills, ramp up the tension a few notches, and make it feel like the characters aren't stuck in some sort of general audience-friendly CW show...
  4. ... and if you want to make it into more of a teen romance than a Horror movie, fine, but don't just turn on the Horror elements again with five minutes left to go in the movie, and then speed through them in some weak attempt to make up for the fact that most of the movie was devoid of them. This movie had no idea what it wanted to be.
  5. Speaking of which, you can see everything that happens in this movie coming from a mile away. If you've seen, oh, I don't know, maybe 8 other Horror movies in your entire life, the you'll be able to figure out exactly what's coming next in this one. On a scripting level, it really does feel about as clever as the average CW show, or maybe Pretty Little Liars; which is to say that it's not very clever at all. Safe, familiar, but not clever.
  6. Too many of the characters in this movie are painfully one-dimensional. Jennifer Carpenter plays the disapproving Stepmother who goes through the entire film with a permanent scowl on her face; Colm Meaney plays the Town Elder who is bound and determined to stop Satan at all costs, and all he does is preach about it; and Rufus Sewell plays the kind and loving father of Mary, who just kind of exists to be a plot device. As great as all of the actors in this one are, there's just no depth to their roles, and they end up feeling more like caricatures than characters. 
  7. And why is this movie so dark? Not being able to see whats going on on-screen DOES NOT add to the ambiance or mood of the movie.
The Devil's Hand wasn't all bad; it was an often-times gorgeous film to look at; the actors were all solid in their performances (even if their characters were written poorly); and the scary/intense/gory bits were pretty good, when they were actually in the movie, for brief, fleeting moments.

The ending was also pretty good. Predictable, but good. It's really too bad that they didn't focus more on the impending rise of "The Devil's Hand," and let her run amok for the final reel of the film; killing those who tried to stop her in bloody, messy ways. That all happened, but in about 30 seconds, right before the credits rolled.

You know what, I think that we might have just watched an 89 minute-long episode of Goosebumps! Honestly.

We're giving this one a C-, only because it looked great, was filled with some great acting talent who did what they could with their paltry roles, and the ending gave us a fun glimpse at what this movie could have been. In all reality though, The Devil's Hand is more of a D+, simply because it's so bland and confused.

This movie will be a great watch for a younger crowd, as it should be suitably "scary" to anyone who watches shows like Pretty Little Liars and the like, but for anyone who isn't a 12-year-old girl, this movie will do nothing but make you mad that they wasted a good premise and talented cast in such a bland way.


The Devil's Hand is available now on VOD.


So if the movie is called The Devil's Hand, does that make these girls the Devil's concubines? If so, nice choices, Devil.

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