Phew. Where to start with this one? Really. Plot-wise, Ali Larter plays a skint and desperate single mother whose home is being terrorised by some apparent ghostly goings on. With seemingly no way out of her situation, it’s down to Larter’s Maddison and her convenient-by-profession scientist boyfriend (Arjun Gupta) to get to the bottom of these traumatic happenings. Yes, so bad are things, even the local rent-a-Ghostbuster group of paranormal experts won’t touch the situation.
To his credit, Alistair Legrand does try to do something different with a film that has the potential to just be standard genre fodder full of overly familiar tropes and tricks. Unfortunately, The Diabolical falls short of reaching its aim. As the movie plays out, we get introduced to things that we’ve seen many, many times before, and worryingly nothing of any real substance happens for the first hour of the film’s 86-minute duration. By the time that things do get spiced up in the final half hour, the twists and turns seem ludicrous and as if they’ve been thought out purely to maximise the surprise value… even if things come off as almost laughable.
On the plus side, The Diabolical is rather well shot for such a relatively low budget effort, and Legrand certainly seems to have a good eye for suspense at times. Similarly, Ali Larter does her damnedest with the material she has to work with, and she’s assisted by some great turns from Max Rose and Chloe Perrin as the poor children by her side throughout the traumatic events of the tale. Sadly, bar an okay performance from Gupta, the rest of the supporting cast are all as bland as a stale Victoria sponge. Only further souring the experience is a completely erratic (and not in a good way) score; one that at times seem to give a warmth and fuzziness during some of the moments that are supposed to rile up the scares. Then there’s the SFX work on show, which is largely dismal, although the film’s budget obviously has to be taken into account when looking at this aspect of the movie.
Despite trying to do something different, The Diabolical is a film that is let down by an embarrassingly familiar and flavourless script until it pulls off that twist. By the time things do spark to life, even the most Red Bull-fuelled of viewers will feel themselves dozing off as Legrand’s movie has by that point become a literal non-event of a film.
When all is said and done, sadly for The Diabolical it well and truly lives up to its name. And not in a good way.
THE DIABOLICAL / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: ALISTAIR LEGRAND / SCREENPLAY: LUKE HARVIS, ALISTAIR LEGRAND / STARRING: ALI LARTER, ARJUN GUPTA, MAX ROSE, CHLOE PERRIN / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 19TH