Where the Devil Dwells (2014) – By Baron Craze


Marc-Andre Samson, known for visual effects with large looming budgets for films such as Cabin in the woods (2012); The Reaping (2007), brings together a very interesting horror tinge and psychological terror film to the fans of the genre, thanks to Midnight Releasing. What if one of your parents were a serial killer, how does impact you, able to adjust easily, past the suspicious glances, rumors running amok, the name-calling, the bullying, this movie attempts to answer that intriguing question. It is a character based and driven story on the life of a son, infamous killer nicknamed “The Butcher”, an abundance of ideas spring together but with highly limited funds Samson’s talent for improvisation  come together for a very good insight into madness.

The film starts with the local sheriff Don Miller portrayed exquisitely by Scott Anthony Leet (The Prometheus Project (2010)) a nonsensical man, with the convictions and strength of his true authority.  He convincingly shows that he’s less than thrilled to babysit this man, and constantly refers to him, humiliating terms, such as sissy. Yet, he follows the law to a point, rather than keeping Lenard nearby, he establishes a welcome concept by forcing to stay in his late relative’s home who rumored to be a closeted homosexual with satanic references. An insecure Lenard (Pena), the son of a serial killer, in recovery, serving out the last 90 days of his asylum sentence under house arrest with an electronic leg bracelet for his own safety confined to this place in the middle of nowhere. His life ruined from guilt by association and narrow-mindedness of others, the tortures corrupting soul, he falsely accused a man as a Satanist and attacking him physically that he is not mentally stable. This becomes as case for Dr. Phil, sadly no kindness from authorities as he suffers from schizophrenia and is constantly reminded what kind of monster his father was. Lenard strives to stay focused on the discipline regiment of pills, and institutionalized order and cleanliness of home, self, and mind. In addition, realizing the local sheriff won’t deliver his meds runs an ad in the local paper for an assistant. Constant reminders from society indirectly affecting his son consistently inspired a series of movies and several devilish cults since father’s showdown with the police.  It all leads to the story switching gears, a decline or just another ordinary day, watch as his mind gets the best of him at times tormented constantly reminded of being trapped by memories and the beeping of the ankle monitor staking his boundaries. It at times hints a little to Psycho II, with Norman (Anthony Perkins) as he struggles to remain sanity and not be sent back to the hell of doctors and loss of freedom. A series of events spiral outward unhinging Lenard thoroughly, such as finding blood, a dead animal, satanic symbols and the arrival of his Oren (David O’Hara), ready to kill and establish the power and fear of “The Butcher”. No question the audience finds enjoyment and some nerve wrecking adjustments to the images as they try to distinguish what is real, fake and question the hallucinations of stress or cracks in the sanity. The key though while watching place yourself in the position of Lenard, from the possibilities that close relative in fact did the horrendous crimes, whether a serial killer or far greater psychosis understanding a meltdown in mental stress and vast array of symbolism some real other imaginary or is it all vice versa. Very few horror films, in today’s market convincingly make a story the drives the entire movie and centering it just one location, with limited characters excels in Samson’s storytelling with wonderful visuals. Aside from the story, which keeps one alert no texting on the phone, pay attention to the screen, and keeping your mind engaged. The schizophrenic angle leads too many second-guessing, which work in the positive for entertainment possibilities all thanks to the capability duties of the cast.

The concept of devil worshipping always associated with horror films as alcohol and drugs lead to turmoil in drama films, but the first one deems all associated with it as the most dangerous individuals on the planet. Basis of it all brings wondrous tales along with the corniest of plots, filter over the countless productions in the genre. Although, a very real aspect brought up in the movie coincides with the realities in the America, in the late eighties, the so-called exposure of the unholy sub-genre. The film sets itself in 1989 the height of the satanic scare of the late 80s when televangelists convince parents of the dangerous and that is filter smartly into this independent movie.   This again shows the storytelling aspect of this film, rises above the norm, with Samson showing additional skills the film’s screenwriter layering the horror elements. A downside to some the pace is extremely slow however mixing with a reference to both Satanism and schizophrenic, it works to stir psychological impact to both characters and the audience.

A very believable storyline and realistic cast worked wonders on a minuscule budget of $50,000 but when a movie, tricks the mind with visuals and confuses the audience instead ending it all in the devil’s lap or endless drivel one must applaud.  Nevertheless, those seeking blood-splatter and high body count, this is not for you, though why not expound your horizons and look at Where the Devil Dwells for a new rest stop in horror.