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THE DEVIL TO PAY Review–Well-Made Revenge Served in Appalachia

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Starring Danielle Deadwyler, Catherine Dyer, Jayson Warner Smith

Written by Lane Skye and Ruckus Skye

Directed by Lane Skye and Ruckus Skye


Atmospheres are key to color the various films in the revenge horror subgenre.  From the rural rape-revenge of I Spit on Your Grave, to the urban streets in Ms. 45 but lately, there has been a void of a woman taking revenge on the loss of a fiancé or spouse.  The last one I can recall is Neil Jordan’s The Brave One in 2007.

The Devil to Pay (aka Reckoning), distributed by Dark Star Pictures and Uncork’d Entertainment, and written and directed by the husband and wife team Lane and Ruckus Skye (Becky), fills the present void admirably.

Lemon Cassidy (Danielle Deadwyler) lives in a modest house in the middle of nowhere Appalachia with her son Coy (Ezra Haslem) where Lemon’s “gallivanting” husband has mysterious disappeared.  Lemon is sent to see Tommy Runion (Catherine Dyer), the steely head matriarch of the wooded countryside.  Tommy tells Lemon that her husband has a debt to be paid and that Lemon must find her husband or Tommy will “murder her boy and bury her alive right next to him”.   Finding out that her husband’s hands were severed and the threat of death on her and her son’s heels, Lemon turns from victim to vigilante, taking her sorrow and anger out on the Runion’s, breaking the long truce between two families.

This well-spun yarn is well written and directed by the Skyes. The cinematography is impeccably helmed by Sherman Johnson as the atmosphere is beautifully captured with an efficient economy of shots that creates a mesmerizing montage that perfectly captures Appalachia and its desolation.  The music created by Brad Carter only enhances the cinematic language of this film and will stay with you for days.

Danielle Deadwyler’s performance as Lemon is as one of the best performances I’ve seen in years as the strong-willed turned vengeful matriarch as she battles the laconic Bull Runion expertly played by Adam Boyer, the brothers of Wade and Dixon Runion (Jason Warner Smith and Brad Carter) who are terrific as the comic pair, and then back to the scary but annoying Tommy who is played deliciously by Catherine Dyer.  Kudos to the casting director who created this fascinating and awesome ensemble.

There are plenty of unexpected turns of twisted tension courtesy of a backwoods blood feud, a crazy “back to the ether” hippie cult, a mysterious fluid and creepy recipe tips, there is plenty of what the fuckery to go around.  This is a film that, if you don’t know about it, will wonder how you missed it.  Hopefully, by reading this review, you won’t as this film could define the revenge horror genre for years to come.

The Devil to Pay will be coming to selected drive-ins today (October 2nd) and will be on VOD on October 6th.

  • THE DEVIL TO PAY
5.0

Summary

There are plenty of unexpected turns of twisted tension courtesy of a backwoods blood feud, a crazy “back to the ether” hippie cult, a mysterious fluid and creepy recipe tips, there is plenty of what the fuckery to go around.

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Written by Paul Grammatico

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