Directed by Christian E. Christiansen
A good old-fashioned Satanic panic horror movie starring Rufus Sewell, Jennifer Carpenter and Colm Meany? Hell, yeah. Sign me up!
Not so fast, Beelzebub. Yes, those amazing stars are in the movie, but they aren’t the leads. Nope, that honor goes to a handful of young unknowns. Not that they’re bad – in fact the main nobody, Alycia Debnam Carey as Mary, is quite a good actress who carries most of the film and does it well – but the focus being on teenagers makes the movie less-appealing to an adult audience.
There have been some problems plaguing this production. I was on-set in North Carolina when it was being filmed as The Occult (and subsequently retitled to Where the Devil Hides and The Devil’s Rapture), and the film I was expecting based on interviews with the director and cast is not the film I got. But don’t despair, horror fans. It’s different, but not altogether bad.
The Devil’s Hand’s plot is firmly rooted in the 70s and 80s — it’s Blood on Satan’s Claw meets The Seventh Sign, if you can imagine that. A small cloister of deeply religious, Amish-like townsfolk find themselves dealing with the devil’s spawn when six baby girls are born on the 6th day of the 6th month… yes… that’s 666! Naturally, Elder Beacon (Colm Meany) sees that as a bad omen (if you’ll pardon the pun). His solution? To paraphrase Arnaud Amalric: “Kill ’em all, and let God sort ’em out!” In the nick of time, the killer clergyman is stopped from decorating the makeshift maternity ward in red by judicious new dad Jacob (Rufus Sewell). But while one crisis is averted, another happens when one of the mothers kills her infant to spare her the curse, and then slits her own throat.
The legend goes that on the 18th birthday of one of the remaining girls, she will become the right-hand maiden to Satan himself. But for 17 years life has been going on as usual. Elder Beacon is still spewing his sermons. Jacob, now married to Rebekah (Jennifer Carpenter), is successfully raising his daughter, Mary, to be good and respect the Lord. The remaining three possibly cursed young ladies – Ruth (Adelaide Kane), Sarah (Leah Pipes), and Abby (Katie Garfield) are doing great, too. That is, until nearly 18 years later, when June 6th looms close on the calendar.
Before long the scythes are sharpened, torches fired up, and pitchforks raised. When a hapless teen disappears and her parents are brutally slain, one things leads to another until the clues lead not to a prophecy engineered by the devil, but an all-too-real killer.
While The Devil’s Hand is not the most intelligent nor tightly plotted or creative thriller to come along lately, it is well-acted, very gory and has a great-guns ending zinger that’s a fitting nod to the old school.