Review: The Devil's Business / Cert: 18 / Director: Sean Hogan / Screenplay: Sean Hogan / Starring: Billy Clarke, Jack Gordon, Jonathan Hansler, Harry Miller / Release Date: Out Now
An intimate, atmospheric and chilling horror film from British Director Sean Hogan that works extremely well in the perimeters of its small budget. It boasts two particularly good lead performances and a tightly wound and smartly worded screenplay influenced by Harold Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter.
Pinner (Billy Clarke) and Cully (Jack Gordon) are two hit-men sitting in wait at the residence for their next assigned victim Kist (Jonathan Hansler). Pinner is an old hand at this game and recites the dos and don’ts to his young, ambitious apprentice Cully through dialogue that intrigues and flows extremely well. With the Pinter influence it does have the feel of a play and, along with the dimmed lights and long conversations, this is a film that comfortably dwells in its creepy ambience. Pinner tells a story about a dancer that not only engrosses but adds to the eerie atmosphere and plays an important part in building tension and introducing Pinner’s character. Billy Clarke is captivating in his role and an actor whose films I now look forward to watching after such an excellent performance. Jack Gordon, who is fast becoming a name to watch (standing out amongst his peers in other horror films Panic Button and Truth or Die) nails the likeable fool with another confident performance as he successfully shifts from arrogant to nervous wreck as horrible events unfold.
Amongst all the chatter and darkened rooms there is something sinister at play. When the two are interrupted by a sound outside they investigate and find the remnants of a satanic ritual. Special effects from Dan Martin are gruesomely conceived, sloppy entrails and bloody bits laid out like the devil’s vomit. What is Kist involved in and how will the two fare against the black magic at work here?
This is slow burning, involving, verbose horror that ends on a playful and almost comical note that will either be embraced or laughed at. It aims at homage in the last ten minutes to films like Don’t Look Now and Phenomena that fans of horror will almost certainly get but may not like. Still, it stands up to multiple viewings and will appeal to a broader audience than many other small budget horrors thanks to its strong script, direction and performances. Amidst a slew of hackneyed, ill thought out horror the occasional gem shines like a bright beacon and this truly is the business. I can’t wait to see what Sean Hogan comes up with next.