Movie Review: The Devil's Business / Cert: 18 / Director: Sean Hogan / Screenplay: Sean Hogan / Starring: Billy Clarke, Jack Gordon, Jonathan Hansler, Harry Miller / Release Date: August 17th
There are many low budget filmmakers who fatally do not know the limitations of their lack of money. This results in productions that look very much like they cost £10 to make in someone’s back garden and these more often than not end up on the shelf of your local poundland, bypassing Blockbuster Video all together. Then there are productions that know their limits and revel in it, being inventive in terms of their story and plotting but never feeling like this is due to the limits imposed on the first time filmmakers. For most of its running time, The Devils Business is definitely the latter type of film.
London hit men Pinner (Billy Clarke, wide eyed and wired) and Culley (Jack Gordon, dim and twitchy) break into a suburban home and wait for their target Kist (Jonathan Hanser) to get home from the opera just after midnight. Their boss Bruno (Harry Miller) wants this man dead and as they snoop around his home, killing time before he arrives, they begin to discover shocking secrets that reveal a possible back ground in black magic and the dark arts.
The set-up is as simple as they get, there are really only four locations; the living room, the dining room, the alleyway and the garage. Writer and Director Sean Hogan lets his strong dialogue and great performances do all of the heavy lifting. It’s a testament to his talent that despite the limited locations and the reliance on performance, not once does The Devil’s Business feel stagey or like an amateur theatre production. The dialogue really is the best I have heard in a horror film for some time, the first half an hour or so consists mainly of two men talking in the dark and yet somehow I was never bored. A long monologue delivered by Pinner regarding a former target is riveting to listen to, it’s something that in lesser hands would feel like they were trying to pad out the run time but it’s an element of the story that does pay off come the ending. The dialogue and performance is backed up by a score that is heavily in debt to early John Carpenter and adds to the feel of encroaching doom that you feel in every shadow and dark corner of the house.
Comparisons with Ben Wheatley’s Kill List are inevitable, but one of that films strength’s was that it never went full tilt into the supernatural elements of the story and let the viewer mostly make up their own mind. The Devil’s Business fatally forgets all the good groundwork and its low budget to lay on the overtly supernatural in its last fifteen minutes so all the creepiness and menace evaporates completely. There is an element introduced in the final moments that is straight from the bad book of things not to do for a low budget filmmaker. An attempt at the surreal and the creepy backfires and the whole thing blows up in your face.
The Devil’s Business is still a trip worth taking and one of the better British horror films of recent times, despite being fatally flawed. Sean Hogan is definitely a name to watch in the new generation of British talent.
Expected Rating: 5 out of 10