Devour (2005)


USA. 2005.


Director – David Winkler, Screenplay – Adam Gross & Seth Gross, Producers – Daniel Bigel & Neal Moritz, Photography – Brian Pearson, Music – Joseph Loduca, Music Supervisor – Jay Faires, Visual Effects – Rainmaker (Supervisor – Steve Hodgson), Special Effects Supervisor – Bob Comer, Makeup Effects – WCT Productions (Designer – Bill Terezakis), Production Design – Troy Hansen. Production Company – Bigel Entertainment


Jensen Ackles (Jake Gray), Shannyn Sossamon (Marisol), Dominique Swain (Dakota), Teach Grant (Conrad), Rob Stewart (Sheriff Ross North), Alan Ackles (Paul Kilton), Bill Sadler (Ivan Reisz), Wanda Cannon (Kathy), R. Nelson Brown (Walt), Jenn Griffin (Anne Kilton), Martin Cummins (Aidan Kater), Reg Tupper (Professor Hartney), Emy Aneke (Darius), John Innes (Father Moore)


At university in Cheever Lake, Jake Gray’s friend Conrad on a dare signs Jake up with a website called The Pathway. The Pathway calls people up to offer them various challenges. Soon Jake starts to receive mysterious phone calls and has alarming dreams of shooting his father and cutting his tongue out. After receiving one of these calls, Jake sees a mysterious creature in his basement. Conrad then goes crazy and shoots two fellow students, before cutting out his tongue and killing himself. Jake comes to believe that The Pathway is controlled by Satan and that Conrad may even have been possessed. In trying to discover what lies behind The Pathway, Jake is led to expose a series of buried secrets regarding Satanic sacrifices.

Devour is a routine director-to-video horror, of which far too many are being made these days – see the conveyor belt likes of They (2002), Darkness Falls (2003) etc. As with most of these, Devour falls into an easy formula – a few thrills that all come with an eminent predictability but nothing too way out there, a handsome cast (most notably the impossibly good-looking Jensen Ackles) who all around the early twenties mark and a hint of sexuality that never crosses the PG-13 threshold.

Devour starts out with a somewhat interesting premise – that of the deadly internet game. Here Devour starts to suggest it is going to be along the lines of films like Brainscan (1994), Killer Net (1998), .com for Murder (2002) or FeardotCom (2002). This proves potentially intriguing at the outset but the idea soon falls prey to a slow and an eminently predictable pace where the whole film feels that it is arranged around a series of scares delivered up at timed intervals. The shock effects are not terribly interesting – there is only the silly image of Jensen Ackles trying to cut off an oversized tongue with a knife or the schlocky image of a finger turning up in a bowl of fries, which has been stolen from The Hitcher (1986). There is a demonic creature that is briefly glimpsed but never gets up to much.

However, in mid-film Devour takes a surprise detour and turns into something else entirely. The sinister internet site angle gets largely forgotten about and the film leaps off into Satanic conspiracies. Here Devour seems to get serious and buy into an earnest Christian line – indeed, in some of this, it is hard not to believe that Devour is not intended to fall into the new Christian fantasy genre that has emerged in the mid-2000s – The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) etc. It does result in a very peculiar film. Although, at least Devour does reach an interesting double twist ending that one never sawcoming.

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