Devil's Diary (2008)
Reviewed by Melissa Bostaph
Starring Magda Apanowicz, Alexz Johnson, Miriam McDonald and Tyler Boissonnault
Directed by Farhad Mann
So I’m sitting here wrapped in a blanket and still freezing my ass off because a chubby little groundhog decided to see his damn shadow a few weeks ago. In theory I could be in a warm bed right now, but instead I’m too hopped up on the insidious, black, high octane fuel that my husband somehow produced with an appliance that normally makes coffee. So you’ll have to bear with me until my buzz wears off. Just a warning though…if this review ends with a long string of nonsensical letters and numbers strewn together you’ll all know that I will probably wake up in the morning with the impression of a keyboard in my face. Don’t laugh…It’s not pretty…and I’m not in the mood.
Why I’m not in the mood is the other reason I’m here. I just watched Devil’s Diary and seriously I’m still not exactly sure why. The movie started out like a rip off of the Death Note anime and movie series with its very own version of a dangerous blank journal that the owner can use to cause great harm and eventual death to anyone just by writing it down on the pages within. All that was missing was the Death Gods… Oh and an original thought, because once you force yourself to look passed the similarities to Death Note you are thrown headlong into a diluted cup of the classic Heathers. Of course this was lacking Christian Slater’s devilishness and Winona Ryder’s charisma.
In this case though the Devil’s Diary isn’t owned by Death Gods, it is truly a demonic vessel that possesses its keeper until it can find its way into the hands of an even more ambitious individual who is willing to give their very soul to the thing in exchange for great power and immortality which comes in the form of eternal damnation. Of course the first person who finds the Devil’s Diary is a confused teenaged Goth girl who immediately uses it to punish the head cheerleader for being the clichéd, stuck-up, uberbitch.
Guess what…the cheerleader’s name is even Heather, and come to mention it…the morose girl who finds the diary is paired up with her confident best friend creating a couple very much like the sisters in Ginger Snaps. Hmmm…very curious. Too bad you never really end up giving a shit about most of the characters because they are simply not as interesting as the ones in the other films I mentioned.
I do have to say that if you can get around the resemblances to many other genre titles the first half of the film isn’t too bad. There were a few glitches here and there with weak writing or direction, but a couple of the performances (most notably that of Alexz Johnson, who outshined the rest of the cast) pulled the mess together into a relatively palatable TV horror film. Too bad that the story itself got so ridiculous by the finale that even the strongest actors in Hollywood wouldn’t have been able to salvage the wreckage. The second half of the film was an all around disaster. There’s no nicer way to put it. The movie imploded.
It was as if the filmmakers had looked at the steady structure of a typical teen revenge story and decided to take potshots at it with a high caliber weapon. They blew it full of holes and unnecessary lead bits in the form of hideous CGI effects and embellishments to a simple yet decent premise. By the end it reminded me of yet another film, this time it was The Rage: Carrie 2. Good idea, poorly executed. The film totally lost me when a newly possessed user of the diary was jettisoned across the frame because the book was thrown, and the actions of the characters at the end were so predictable that the only distraction from the obviousness were the obnoxious CGI effects and atrocious over-acting.
My hope and advice for all the aspiring Indie filmmakers out there is this: believe in yourselves! I have seen more indie films go from great to shit within a few frames just because the director seems to lose all self-confidence. Don’t throw in a bunch of unneeded filler and fluff in order to “pad” the film or even to “try something cool”. Stick to your guns, keep with your original thought, HAVE original thoughts, and for the love of Karo Syrup and food coloring…stick to practical effects! Use your computers to promote your films, NOT pollute them!
3 out of 5