Devil's Workshop (2022) poster

Devil’s Workshop (2022)


USA. 2022.


Director/Screenplay – Chris Von Hoffmann, Producers – D.J. Dodd, Joe Gallagher, Phillip B. Goldfine, Lou Paik, Geno Tazioli, Kurt Van Fossen, Zack Weiner & Kevin Weisberg, Photography – William Tracy Babcock, Music – Jacques Brautbar, Visual Effects – VFX LA, Visual Effects Supervisors – Charles H. Joslain, Joey Serber & Izzy Traub, Makeup Effects/Creature Design – Cig Neutron, Production Design – Craig Rose. Production Company – Manhattan Movie Studio/Future Proof Films/Hollywood Media Bridge/Bungalow Media.


Timothy Granaderos (Clayton Walker), Radha Mitchell (Eliza Atwood), Emile Hirsch (Donald), Sarah Coffey (Nikki), Miles Doleac (Chip), Brooke Ramirez (Petra), Kelly Lind (Mother)


Clayton Walker has spent fifteen years trying to make it as an actor without much success. He then learns that he is in the front running for the lead in the film Paranormal Highway at an audition to be held on Monday. Fearful that he will lose the role to Donald, the obnoxious jerk in his acting workshop, Clayton places an ad online asking for a real demonologist, hoping that he can get some pointers for the role. This is answered by Eliza Atwood who invites Clayton over to her place. There she determines that Clayton has a demon affecting him and that she will conduct a ritual to exorcise it. However, Clayton is soon given to question her sanity.

Devil’s Workshop was the third film for director/writer Chris von Hoffmann who had previously made the horror film Drifter (2016) and the home invasion film Monster Party (2018), as well as the Ephebiphobia episode of the horror anthology Phobias (2021).

Devil’s Workshop had an intriguing elevator pitch premise – “A struggling actor spends a weekend with a female demonologist to prepare for an audition.” It was enough to make me interested to watch. Certainly, once the film begins, it proves very different to anything that you expect. Before sitting down, I imagined some kind of crosshatch between tv’s hilarious hitman in an acting class show Barry (2018-23) and maybe The Rite (2011) about a novice coming to witness an exorcist in action. It felt that such an idea had much potential.

Instead of anything like this, we get Radha Mitchell as a New Agey demonologist. I have always admired Radha ever since she first came onto my radar in Pitch Black (2000). On the other hand, her performance here seems to be anything except what you expect of an exorcist – alternately filled with New Age ritual, full of airily obtuse utterings and even at time flirtatious as she seems determined to alternately tease and mindfuck with Timothy Granaderos. At one point, the two even have a fight during which he ends up trying to strangle her.

Radha Mitchell as the exorcist Aliza in Devil's Workshop (2022)
Radha Mitchell as the exorcist Aliza

The scenes between Timothy Granaderos and Radha Mitchell alternate with ones with Emile Hirsch as Timothy Ganderos’s rival. Hirsch, giving what is essentially a Jack Black performance, lets all stops go and plays as broadly as possible, none the more so than the end scenes where he gives an incredibly lame audition scene, followed by a montage of scenes that run over the credits where we see him conducting a series of really bad freestyle raps. The most entertaining of these is the party scene in which Hirsch faces Sarah Coffey down demanding to know why her parents killed themselves, before the end of the scene hilarious turns everything on its head.

The film disappoints. It never delivers what you expect – scenes of a novice actor going down a rabbit hole of exorcism, at least in any traditional sense of the meaning, nor is it any kind of comedy or parody. It is something else but not anything that particularly reinvents the clichés of the Exorcism genre. The ending the film reaches – [PLOT SPOILERS] where Radha Mitchell mounts Timothy Granaderos and tears her skin off to reveal what would seem to be a demon leave you scratching your head. It feels like a “huh” ending that was thrown in because the film lacked any other wrap-up for the material.

Trailer here

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