Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 26 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for Disturbing and Violent Material, some partial Nudity and Thematic Content
Directed by: Christian E. Christiansen
Written by: Karl Mueller
Starring: Rufus Sewell, Jennifer Carpenter, Colm Meaney, Alycia Debnam Carey, Adelaide Kane, Leah Pipes & Thomas McDonell
THE DEVIL’S HAND (previously known as THE DEVIL’S RAPTURE previously known as THE OCCULT previously known as WHERE THE DEVIL HIDES) was dumped onto VOD last weekend with no advertising at all. I actually found out about its release from a certain horror blog that was kind enough to inform me. Right out of the gate, did I expect THE DEVIL’S HAND to be particularly good? Not really. The title changes and release date shifts for the past two years didn’t exactly give me the highest hopes that this was a quality piece of horror cinema. I was more morbidly curious as to why the studio would uncaringly shove off a project they had poured money and time into. It’s a bit of a reverse-psychology effect with me and these kind of situations. If a film gets overly delayed, I get semi-excited to see if it was remotely decent to begin with. Watching THE DEVIL’S HAND, it quickly became apparent as to why the studio threw this Satanic Panic flick by the wayside so many times. It’s terrible, that’s why!
It’s easier and more accurate to say that DEVIL’S HAND is a combination of MY SOUL TO TAKE (Wes Craven’s worst film) with THE HAUNTING OF MOLLY HARTLEY, than it is to intricately describe the plot. Getting the basic set-up out-of-the-way, six girls were all born on the same night in an Amish-like community. A prophecy was foretold that these six births would be a sign that the antichrist was coming in the form of one of these girls. Eighteen years later, the girls are on the verge of becoming women and a cloaked figure begins killing them off one-by-one to prevent the antichrist from reaping havoc on the Earth. It’s a silly and stupid premise that comes off as somehow more inept than the dialogue from MY SOUL TO TAKE and even more confusing than HAUNTING OF MOLLY HARTLEY. This film is sometimes laughably bad, but more like an endurance test.
The first thing that becomes clear in THE DEVIL’S HAND is that the story has been cut to shreds. Dialogue from presumably a scene cut out of the original cut has been laced over the opening credits sequence so you’re already given the back story before the film even starts. It seems like a last-ditch effort to speed up the plot in a film that somehow feels longer than its 86-minute running time. Everything still remains dull and dreary through its entirety. The PG-13 rating also clearly wasn’t intended because there are quick moments of gore (a throat slashing, an impalement) and one bit of full-on nudity from a young actress that are briefly glimpsed in a matter of seconds before moving forward. It’s more than likely that the film was originally R and cut back to appeal to the wider demographic upon its VOD release. PG-13 rated horror films don’t all suck, not at all. 1408, DRAG ME TO HELL, and INSIDIOUS are all great examples of PG-13 horror done right. When content restrictions take away from the story being told, there’s a problem with said rating being placed on that film. DEVIL’S HAND tries to homage 70’s satanic panic flicks, hearken back to 80’s slashers, and still remain a modern teeny-bopper horror flick. As you can imagine, this combination doesn’t gel well together at all.
The dialogue is atrocious and stupid clichés litter the script. My favorite was the magically transporting killer who can just show up in any corner when its convenient. The reveal of the cloaked figure’s identity is even more contrived, because there was nothing really building up towards this reveal being effective or making a lick of sense. The final minutes go full on into the same territory that MOLLY HARTLEY ended on. None of the cast members seem to like being associated with this film either and it shows in their performances. Colm Meaney is embarrassingly over-the-top and yells about doing God’s work in every scene he’s in. Rufus Sewell and Jennifer Carpenter both look bored, delivering their lines in monotone. None of the young actresses do a particularly good job either, but they aren’t given anything to work with in their defense.
There are a lot of good reasons why DEVIL’S HAND was tampered with so many times, delayed through a couple of years, and unceremoniously dumped onto digital platforms to rent this Halloween season. The biggest reason of all is that this film is a failure in all areas. It’s a boring, stupid mess that won’t appeal to anyone outside of preteen girls who have never sat through a single horror movie in their lives. DEVIL’S HAND is godawful!