Devils in Disguise (2014) – By Shari K. Green


Written and Directed by: Guillaume Campanacci
Starring: Magen Mattox, Montanna Gillis, Pilar Arias, Tad Brown and Guillaume Campanacci

Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Rated: R
1h, 28mins

Devils in Disguise isn’t all it seems to be… I’m not being negative so stay with me. It’s a black & white art house film which you, from first look at it, may think is your general indie movie but it’s not. It’s more. I’ll say it, who isn’t making a movie these days? Just because you can write a story and shoot a movie, doesn’t mean you have the talent it takes for an audience to enjoy watching it. But this isn’t just another indie. It’s the very representation of it. I’m basing this on the fact that writer, director, Guillaume Campanacci, who also played a key role in the film, made this unorthodox movie for an unheard of budget of $5,000 and with only a crew of three people. He wrote what he knew he could afford to shoot and didn’t try to eclipse that with adding elements that would have looked bad, been completely unacceptable and wouldn’t have worked. Ego didn’t get ahead of capabilities and the means. That is a true independent filmmaker. You will marvel at what he accomplished with so little. Not only did he write, star and direct the movie but he shot it, as well, and managed to make a film that at the end, will leave you perplexed… in a good way, of course. And if you know what to expect going in with films such as these; you don’t mind strange cuts and long shots that lead more to character development than to action, this is for you.

In the vein of films such as Black Narcissus, Devils in Disguise starts out a story about two characters you think you have figured out pretty quickly but there’s more going on than what’s on the surface. Leila (Mattox) is married to Alain (Campanacci) and from shot to shot, the storm brews into what you don’t expect, which is refreshing. Things aren’t going so well for the couple and you start to get the sense that she is being abused and that she’s under Alain’s thumb. She vomits to stay thin and you get angry at a man who makes a woman feel as though she’s not good enough for him. Enter roommate, Sandy (Gillis). She’s the strong female that Leila wishes she were and luckily for her, Sandy is up for some training. Leila fears to be alone and since they have a lot in common, such as the need for a powerfully good orgasm, they begin spending a lot of time together. Sandy sees that Alain mistreats her new friend and they hatch a plan to do the man in. Without going into much detail in that regard, they do the deed and that’s when the story gets much more interesting.

The budget comes into play when you see the locations he shot the film. Monies spent on production is almost totally allocated to on place, with very few exceptions, which allowed Campanacci to focus more on his cinematography and editing where he is more than qualified. He paints a curious and bizarre portrait of his characters by using their surroundings as the canvas. Shooting in black and white helps accent his story beautifully and the audience perceives the story more deeply. Whether positive or negative, what the characters experience are highlighted beautifully this way. His camera work will stay with you long after the film is over. This is a must watch for anyone thinking about getting into cinematography. Some shots are long and a bit pretentious but if you like noir, this is it in a nutshell. Campanacci uses every trick in the book, even cutting sound for you at times, making this an intoxicating journey.

Very little surprises the average moviegoer these days so it’s nice to see that someone is out there attempting to continue the tradition of a physiological/thriller and succeeding in thrilling you. Pay close attention to songs by Britt Warner. They’re gorgeous and add a lot to the scenes they’re in. Her music is incredible and Campanacci made a brilliant move using her music. Sadly, I would have liked to have seen some more experience from the players in this piece. Whether Campanacci was too busy or not (With all that goes into a film pre-post, shooting and post production, it’s possible.) to notice, I don’t think he spent the time needed to find a cast worthy of such an intricate tale. That said, I do wish he had.

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