The Devil’s Well Review
The Devil’s Well is a horror film about a woman who mysteriously vanishes while conducting a paranormal investigation with her husband.
Taking its cues from the found footage craze with a pseudo-documentary twist, Kurtis Spieler‘s The Devils Well is a low budget B-movie that is pretty much what you’d expect, even with some solid work from its cast. It sticks rigidly to well-worn ruts laid down by countless others, yet there is a growing audience for this type of movie, and admittedly, there’s enough here to certainly satisfy those looking for their latest hit.
Bryan Marks (Bryan Manley Davis) and his wife Karla (Anne-Marie Mueschke) are a team of paranormal investigators who have a website with a number of dedicated followers. On their behalf, the two head to Connecticut to take a look at a thing called The Devil’s Well, that, among the paranormal community, is believed to be an actual gateway to Hell. The well is in the crusty old basement of an abandoned mill, and ends up being the site of Karla’s disturbing disappearance. Marks gets blamed, despite some loose evidence, including a video tape found at the bottom of the well. With nothing to convict though, Bryan is released and a year later, he returns with a second group of paranormal investigators called S.I.G.N.S. in hopes of finding Karla. Naturally, they get more than they bargained for.
Right away, the saving grace of The Devil’s Well is its Cold Case Files-esque approach with the ‘interviewed’ actors pretty convincing in the first act, setting up the investigation that follows. These early segments set some solid hooks, and Spieler, who wrote the screenplay, does his best work staging and directing these increasingly more engaging clips as they split between ‘actual’ crime scene photos and people involved in the case. When it abandons that and follows the documentary crew’s experiences and their search for Karla, things become fairly ordinary and the movie loses a lot of the momentum, mostly because it just doesn’t have much to offer beyond the same old found footage clichés seen all too often. We travel down dark halls and through old buildings in the middle of the night with only low-light lamps and flashlights pointing the way and the cast expositioning and reacting to all the usual suspects in the genre.
Are there some scares? Sure, if this is the kind of thing that does it for you. A person’s fear of the dark and the unknown have long been fodder for movies like this and Spieler does well in doling out the jumps and jerks in poking at our baser frights. I liked the dynamics of the S.I.G.N.S. team as well, a few who are rightfully skeptical of the whole thing, though the addition of a psychic to the team strains credibility. Once the group is in the mill, as one team sticks by monitors outside and communicates with the others infiltrating the building, it takes on a kind of homage to a scene in James Cameron‘s Aliens, with all of them hunted and fans of this kind of filmmaking are surely going to eat it up. Unfortunately, The Devil’s Well can’t live up to its ambitions, relying too much on the conventions of the genre and coming up short on its finale, one that just doesn’t have impact, reducing the scale of what should be a terrible global threat to a single room. While the actors try hard, the film is just too generic to make it anything significant. For found footage aficionados only.
The Devil’s Well releases on January 23
The Devil’s Well Review
Movie description: The Devil's Well is 2018 horror film about a woman who mysteriously vanishes while conducting a paranormal investigation with her husband.
Director(s): Kurtis Spieler
Actor(s): Bryan Manley Davis, Chris Viemeister, David Alexander