Kill Devil Hill (2010) – By Emily Intravia

The picture of suburban happiness meets true evil in Kill Devil HIll, a short thriller that’s not afraid to take its audience to tragic and terrifying places.

Introduced as “a reenactment of one of the most bizarre crimes in history,” the film is set in a lovely and green North Carolina. The Reeds are an attractive and warm family enjoying each other as most normal people do. Sons Joey and James (Aiden and Hunter Miranda) squabble about age, while parents Jamie and Jesse (Melinda Bennett and Taylor Graham) flirt and make love a few doors away.

As you might guess from the intro text and title, the Reeds’ idyllic existence isn’t onscreen to last. While spending a day at Kill Devil Hill, youngest son Joey  encounters a mysterious animal skull marked with a pentagram. Later that night, whatever evil rested in that mountain makes its way home, changing the lives of four people forever.

Though the final act of Kill Devil HIll is somewhat predicted by the building tension, it also packs some horrifically shocking punches. You know something terrible will probably befall the Reeds, but because we’ve seen them as a likable, everyday family, the actual event is truly upsetting. The film’s sudden end leaves you in utter horror, an effective place for any audience to be.

Writer/director Ace Jordan has created an incredibly tense short story that easily leaves you wanting more. The performances are quite good, with all four actors generating a believable and sympathetic family chemistry in just 12 minutes. Professional caliber camerawork works well with the character’s upper middle class normality. This is one of those instances of low budget filmmaking where a clean look is vital, with no room for graininess or shaky cam. The final product probably looks far more expensive than the production cost, with the exception of one iffy special effect that comes off as a little too homemade. It doesn’t detract too much from the overall feel of Kill Devil Hill, especially as Rob Gokee’s score (working with a musical theme composed by Jordan) constantly establishes a growing tension just waiting to explode.

Kill Devil Hill is great quick slice of a horror film and hopefully, a promising preview of bigger things to come. To learn more about the film, including upcoming screenings, you can follow its Facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kill-Devil-Hill/108601272457.