Diabolical is a film that refuses to be pinned down to one genre, it twists, twitches and jumps between supernatural horror, sci-fi, paranormal/ghost hunter film and conspiracy thriller. Normally this is the sign of a badly written script that can’t figure out what it wants to be, here however it’s a clever move that keeps the audience guessing as layer after layer is peeled away until we find out what is actually happening.
Unfortunately this also makes it hard to discuss the film’s plot without spoiling it. So I’ll just briefly say it involves a single mother of two who’s house is plagued by seemingly supernatural events. The begin with classic poltergeist activity and progresses to the appearance of an indistinct, distorted human figure. As it become more distinct and a team of ghost hunters is scared off she and her physicist boyfriend start a DIY investigation, which turns up some disturbing connections between him and a nearby research facility.
The film deftly juggles multiple possibilities and potential plot lines. Is it a poltergeist brought on by the children’s emotional issues, (their father has recently died and the boy has serious anger issues), is it a traditional ghost,(either the dead father or a previous occupant of the house), something demonic as the title implies or the result of science run amok?
The film stumbles in the last third, deliberately giving away the specter’s identity to early, but does a good job of holding our interest while they discover why it’s there and how to solve the issue. It’s all wrapped up in an interesting and plausible, (by the film’s internal logic), way.
For many the film’s major draw will be Ali Larter, and she looks good and delivers a solid performance. I prefer her in the Resident Evil films but she’s quite good, not to mention good looking, here. The rest of the cast does well and thankfully Max Rose and Chloe Perrin give credible performances as the kids, not the overly cute ones we so often see in films like this.
This is Alistair Legrand’s first credit both as a director and as a writer, (he co-wrote the script with Luke Harvis). If this is any indication of what he’s capable of on a consistent basis he should have a good career ahead of him.
The effects are good and mostly convincing if a little CGI heavy. A few shots look off but most of them have a convincing otherworldly feel to them and are quite creepy. There are several scenes that had the hair on my neck starting to stand up, something that doesn’t happen often. The Diabolical really should have opened wide in the theaters, it’s that good.
http://diabolical.jp – In Japanese but has nice stills and artwork even if you can’t read it