Don’t Let the Devil In (2016), directed by Courtney Fathom Sell.
Written by Courtney Fathom Sell.
Starring Anthony J. Anastasio, Constance Archer and Mark Ashby.
John Harris works for a property/land development firm in New York City. After his wife Samantha has a miscarriage, his life begins to change. This unfortunate event has traumatized her and John thinks that some time away from the city would do both of them a world of good.
After speaking with his boss, John is tasked with moving to a small town in the Appalachians to oversee development of a new casino. He is warned that the townsfolk are none too happy about the casino coming in, and he might have a tough time dealing with them. While things start out kind of odd, at first, their dealings with the people in town soon become dangerous as it becomes evident that this town has a deeply sinister secret.
Writer/director Courtney Fathom Sell created a film that is less about shocks and horrific moments and more about building an imposing sense of fear. From the moment the Harris’ move into their new house, there is an air of unnerving trepidation. There are several small occurrences that start to reveal pieces of the puzzle. The people in town all seem to know more about John than they should. They also seem to be intentionally covering something up.
The story within the film is a slow-burn. For those that enjoyed films like The House of the Devil or The Witch, you’ll find similar pacing here. The creeping dread overhangs the narrative but remains just out of touch and builds an atmosphere that leaves the viewer uncomfortable, but also wondering just what the Hell is going on in this town.
The major downside to Don’t Let the Devil In comes from the acting. Some performances, namely Marc Slanger as John and Mark Baker as Dr. Mitchell, were fine and remained consistent throughout. Other actors seemed more suited to stage acting, as they were over-the-top and rather “hammy”, for lack of a better term. There were other performances that were just inconsistent, going from playing it straight to high-school theatre performance in the same scene. Fortunately, none of this is enough to really pull the viewer out of story.
While Don’t Let the Devil In was a horror story shrouded in a mysterious atmosphere, it certainly won’t be for everyone. For those that enjoy a story the builds up a creeping sense of uneasiness, and don’t mind a little bit of over-the-top acting, you might find some appeal in Don’t Let the Devil In.