As a long time contribute for Rue Morgue Magazine, Joesph O’Brien, the writer/director of Devil’s Mile has probably watched more horror movies than ninety percent of the population could even name. What’s unfortunate about his directorial debut is he seemed to feel the need to cram every influence he could into an otherwise well made affair, which makes Devil’s Mile difficult to sit through.
The premise is simple enough: a trio of gangster’s find themselves caught up in a kidnapping gone bad when one of the two victims isn’t who they think she is. Coupled with the fact that they find themselves of a stretch of Texas road that doesn’t seem to lead anywhere in particular and you have all the makings of tense but grounded horror film.
The phrase that sprung to mind when watching Devil’s Mile was “Post-Tarantino 90’s cinema.” It tries too hard to be gritty and to give its three leads snappy, bang up dialogue while piling twist after illogical twist on top of one another. David Hayer of the Metal Gear video game series makes a live action appearance as Tobey, the short-tempered leader of the trio that is prone to violent outbursts that act against his best interests. Perhaps its his background in gaming but he fare better than his two costars in delivering the overly pulpy dialog. Unfortunately his quick exit means Casey Hudecki and Maria del Mar are left to shoulder to heavy a load, and they’re just not up to the task.
O’Brien doesn’t do his cast any favors by overwhelming them with a barrage of events while shifting gears every few minutes. Devil’s Mile Winds up a mish-mash of a crime thriller, Lovecraftian inspired horror and J-Horror. Character motivations and reactions change on the fly and it there’s a lack of fluidity to the film.
I would hesitate to write O’Brien off as a filmmaker, and I’d like to see his sophomore effort, especially if he works off a third party’s script. However, there’s just too much going in Devil’s Mile with half the cleverness it thinks it possesses to make it a recommend.