Before I begin this review, allow a moment to understand the concepts of both Religious Horror and Occult stories, both exist and have rightfully places in the horror genre, often enough the occult tales find themselves under the religious and yet crossing over into paranormal films. However, when mixing (demonic) possession movies, many times the films in this realm make a subtle reference to the shining gem known as The Exorcist (1973) Friedkin’s masterpiece. Therefore, a film such as Rosemary’s Baby (1968) mixing beautifully both religious and occult horrors, as stating without the birth of the Antichrist the end times cannot occur, hence Jesus’ return needs the help of the Devil. Other such movies The Omen (1976), The Devil’s Rain (1975), and Race with the Devil (1975), all share the conjuring of such blasphemes and evil, but a basis exists in Revelations. So what does this all have to do with Jason DeVan’s Along Came the Devil, who he co-write with his wife Heather and Dylan Matlock (his first screenwriting credit), simply, his movie tells a tale very similar to that of The Exorcist, while many of these films mentioned above spin a different storyline. Jason’s movie approaches with a young adult, who survives a negative family life, and uses a séance to communicate with the afterlife, namely her mother, thereby unleashing evil.
The story follows Ashley, a young girl (Lia McHugh) when her mother vanishes and bonds closely with her sister and sadly her very abusive father, who tends to trap the girls in a closet in his bedroom while he tries to screw any women he can get while they are both in earshot and sight of the scene. Then a time jump of 10-years later and her sister has left for college and Ashley (Sydney Sweeney (The Horde ) moves in with an emotional distance with Aunt Tanya (Jessica Barth), a church going, bible thumper while she wants to live a normal life, without any of the preaching. Ashley reunites with childhood friends Shane (Austin Filson) and Hannah (Madison Lintz, some might recall as Sophia from The Walking Dead series), who she shares the terrible past with them and the frightening visions now plaguing her. Hannah and Ashley decide to perform a séance using a phone app, after all, her friend who wears a lot of black therefore the cliché she knows the occult, it all goes of course horribly wrong, as Ashley begins transforming and becoming possessed by the Devil, at an alarming rate. Sweeney does a fine performance in the portrayal of someone corrupted by the sinister forces, while Tanya brings the matter to Reverend Michael (portrayed wonderfully by Bruce Davison, who recently starred in Corbin Nash ) and his curious assistant Pastor John (Matt Dallas (Babysitter Wanted ) to exorcise and save Ashley. The Reverend aged in years having fought the Devil decades ago, who has seen all types of evil, reminds one of Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) and the pastor playing a version of Father Karras. By the third act it all becomes The Exorcist, lite-version, very obvious similarities, in fact the original title “Tell Me Your Name”, is often used in those possessed, I think any horror fan can think of at least one movie which uses that phrase. However, this time around once the Devil plays his final card in the deck, not much more to explore in the story.
As normal with these movies the emotional, physical distress, and contortionist movements to Ashley’s body, conveys volumes of pain and anguish, sadly the director relied a too much on musical cues for the telegraph jump scares. Sometimes one is okay in a movie, all the storytelling to develop trust in the actors and the cinematographer to create the necessary tension. The special effects all look and work very well, though creepy shadows don’t do much to generate the proper rezones. The only true sticking point comes back to close similarities to The Exorcist, if this going to continue then please make some more powerful changes, finding new ways to tell the story, instead of girl it’s a teenage boy, who either lusts for a woman or a man, use puberty. Or one might decide to really push the envelope and turn into abuse case, the rape or sexualization can still occur regardless of age, race or sex of the victim. If the is budget large enough, make into a period piece similar The Witch, or dive into the human nature of free will perpetrating on the disguise of demons and the devil, thereby the evil existing in each person.
A slick possessed story, while some criticized and condemned it for being too excessive with religious preaching, I’m confused by that logic, after all its about the church aiding a girl who has the Devil occupying her soul. The religious aspects require the quoting of scripture, singing Kumbaya isn’t going to expel the face of diabolical presence. Now it’s not without flaws, at times it feels as if rushing the film will tie up the loose ends, but for this religious horror flick seems someone used the Cliff Notes version of an exorcism. In the end, one can either watch The Exorcist in the vast darkness of their home or, with distribution from Gravitas Ventures, they can venture forth into abyss and ask the evil to Tell Their Name.
Tagline: Even demons believe in God
IMDb Rating: 4.1/10
Baron’s Rating: 4.0/10