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Review: I Trapped the Devil

AJ Bowen stars in IFC Midnight's I TRAPPED THE DEVIL

Finding a horror movie with new ideas can seem like a difficult thing to do. Finding a horror movie with new ideas that also happens to be good looks to be even more difficult. If you can somehow manage to do either one of those, appreciating at least some of the qualities that are there proves to be easy for many. That’s kind of how I feel about I Trapped the Devil. The ideas that it’s built around allow me to see it in a mostly positive light.

When Matt (AJ Bowen) and his wife Karen (Susan Burke) arrive at the home of his brother Steve (Scott Poythress) unannounced in order to celebrate Christmas, they are greeted with tension. Soon, that tension turns to fear and paranoia as they come to find out there is a man trapped in the basement that Steve believes is the devil. After discovering this, the married couple has to figure out if Steve is right or if he’s just become psychologically unhinged.

If I’m perfectly honest, describing this movie by saying it fits firmly into the horror genre would be somewhat disingenuous. While I believe it can be classified as such, it plays like a drama that takes its time unfolding. What allows it to be labeled as a scary movie is the fact that it does have a creepiness element to it that’s hard to ignore even if the film itself isn’t scary in the usual sense.

Looking at the premise, I wanted to love this, but what surprisingly prevented me from doing that isn’t actually the genuine fear factor that it lacked. Normally, I can easily enjoy a more well-rounded film that is missing what could be considered “key elements.” What negatively impacted the film from my perspective is that I found myself not agreeing with the choices in logic here more often than not.

Over the course of I Trapped the Devil, they leave us with a good number of unanswered questions. In the early going, I was okay with this since it allows everything we see to be set up. Just by looking at what this movie is about, answering these questions legitimately was probably impossible so I admittedly gave this portion of the film a pass in that area.

That’s something that I’m rarely able to do, but understanding the predicament they were in with this concept made me want to. I also liked certain aspects of the film that came after the first act, plus I wanted to ignore the obvious issues early on since the movie clearly had some serious potential. In my mind, if the lack of logic only came in at the setup, we’re potentially looking at something I could at least suggest people watch even if it’s not close to perfect.

Unfortunately, there are latter parts where they don’t use logic and it’s harder to be as forgiving. That’s because some of it just doesn’t work when there is room to explain things in a more rational way. This problem mainly arises when analyzing the actions and choices of the characters. What separates this from earlier issues with logic is that much of this has to do with simple human behavior rather than an inability to explain things.

What helped me see this movie more positively than I normally would stems from the unique ideas that are introduced. From the outside, seeing this as a different type of film was easy. And actually seeing what it had to offer made it watchable. Obviously, making movies under any circumstances can be difficult, but a large part of me just needed more in terms of rational thought and behavior to make this work even more.

I know this kind of stuff has always been something we’ve ignored (or even laughed at) in horror, but I believe we should get to the point where we require more at some point. Plus, this isn’t your typical campy horror movie. Requiring more would mean a higher quality of films in general from this genre. We probably won’t get that, so it’s more of a fantasy for me and people who have the same desire.

Anyway, there will be some people who watch this particular movie and be completely disappointed by what they get since it doesn’t resemble the conventional scary movie they were expecting. At the same time, there will be people like me who can enjoy and at least acknowledge the positives we are being given. In my opinion, I Trapped the Devil is a film that’s at least worth looking at. Even if you don’t like it, it’s only 83 minutes long.

Rating: Not Rated

Director: Josh Lobo

Cast:
AJ Bowen
Susan Burke
Scott Poythress

Film Length: 83 minutes

Release Date: April 26th, 2019 (Select Cinemas and VOD)

Distributor: IFC Midnight

  • Score - 6/10
    6/10
6/10
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