Devil in My Ride (2013)
Directed by Gary Michael Schultz
Horror and comedy are difficult to balance throughout the duration of a film. Many horror comedies, such as Shaun of the Dead, tend to slide more into horror territory as the film progresses, the ending often abandoning most aspects of the style of comedy that transpired beforehand. For others, such as Drag Me to Hell, the comedy and humor never coalesce into what can clearly be called an amalgamation of the two, resulting in a tonally confused film. Then there’s a movie like Gary Michael Schultz’s Devil in My Ride, a self-proclaimed horror comedy that combines aspects of the two, yet suffers from simply not being funny.
Doreen (Breen) and Hank (Bicicchi) are about to be married, but their idyllic wedding is interrupted by the arrival of Travis (Zieger), Doreen’s estranged brother. On his way to the wedding, Travis helps a pair of Gypsies experiencing car troubles and, despite their warnings, steals a presumably cursed amulet from them to give to his sister as a wedding gift. During the wedding reception he recites an incantation in Latin, unwittingly possessing Doreen, who’s wearing the amulet, and prompting Hank and Travis to embark on a road trip to Vegas to find an excommunicated priest named Johnny Priest to exorcise the evil Inculta demon from Doreen.
Devil in My Ride tries really hard to be funny, with Travis, a fast-talking, “don’t give a shit” loner who does little more than get on Hank’s nerves, serving as the catalyst for most of the humorous situations. God bless Zieger, who tries his hardest to make the character have some sort of personality, but ultimately he manages to just make the character overbearing and obnoxious. He tells long-winded stories that never really go anywhere, and while simple talking can be made interesting with good dialogue and performances, Devil in My Ride has neither. The film’s core is the dynamic between Hank and Travis, but nothing that’s said is every truly funny. The only real interesting character is Sid Haig, who plays Iggy, an antiques collector who just happens to know what the amulet means and what’s going to happen to Doreen. The convenient set-up for the road trip notwithstanding, Haig is the only one who shows true acting chops in the entire film, and he’s in it for a mere five or six minutes.
Schultz tries to balance this comedy with the horror, but it becomes almost episodic in nature. It’s all humor, horror, humor, horror, and so on and so forth, with no real intermingling of the two. At times the humor just goes off the rails and borders on the parodic, with one scene finding Hank and Travis playing in a volleyball tournament while Doreen watches, buried up to her neck in the sand. It’s funny, sure, if only for how absurd it is, but it’s a prime example of how tonally all over the place the film really is. Schultz bounces back and forth from horror to comedy without managing to combine the two in a sustainable way, resulting in a mostly unfunny comedy with sporadic moments of horror. While admittedly the practical effects are pretty good, however tame they might be, the horror as a whole is lackluster, and can never seem to find its footing in the grand scheme of things. It quickly becomes mostly repetitive, with the few out-of-left-field moments of humor doing little to save the film.
2 1/2 out of 5