Devil Town FILM REVIEW
"Submitted for your approval, one Patrick Creedle, letting agent, a bulldozer of a man whose life revolves around profit and loss, commission and percentage; a man who values the pieces of paper in his wallet more than life itself, save perhaps his own.
On this particular lunch hour, on this particular day, Patrick Creedle is about to receive a dire warning from a most unusual nemesis - found only in…Devil Town."
Upon reading that intro you'd think you were about to embark on a journey into the Twilight Zone and while watching director Nick Barrett's film you'll feel like you're watching an episode of that iconic television series. Barrett has fully embraced that connection and had the film's official synopsis written up like the intro Rod Serling would deliver before an episode. When I sat down to watch this film I knew absolutely nothing about it. I hadn't seen or read the official synopsis. Sometimes going into a film completely blind can bear fruit while other times it can leave you cold. DEVIL TOWN is definitely the former.
Barrett, who also wrote the film, populates his story with characters you have likely seen or walked by but never paid them much mind. Business men talking on the phone, homeless people, doomsayers on the street corner, less than enthusiastic baristas. Nothing out of the ordinary here but in Barrett's world it behooves you to actually pay attention to the world around you because nothing is ordinary. Barrett plays around with convention, embraces what's familiar, even going so far as to call it out in the film, and subtly nudges things in a direction you may not have anticipated. Barrett gradually builds the mystery and tension allowing it reach a compelling, satisfying and, some might say, shocking conclusion.
Matt Hebden convincingly plays Creedle as the put upon, i'm busy, leave me alone business type. He certainly comes off as a jerk but ultimately any misgivings you may have about him wash away as the gravity of the situation starts to become clear. Hebden does a fine job of transitioning from fight to flight during the film's final act. Hebden has a nice foil to play off of in Johnny Vivash who plays the man with the warning. Vivash is pretty much shackled with all the exposition and delivers it very succinctly. He's the wild card as we aren't sure if the guy is nuts, telling the truth or both. Vivash does a fine job of balancing the character's many traits while never once revealing his hand which certainly pays off quite nicely.
DEVIL TOWN certainly feels like a Twilight Zone episode and would certainly be worthy of being one. It's a well paced mystery that is engrossing, tense, as well as thought-provoking. You may notice themes and elements from other notable genre films but they are put to good use here and despite the familiar tropes it never loses its overall impact. DEVIL TOWN in many respects is a town worth visiting.
Director: Nick Barrett
Screenplay: Nick Barrett
Starring: Matt Hebden, Johnny Vivash, Elina Alminas
Running Time: 16 minutes
***** = Outstanding ****1/2 = Excellent **** = Very Good ***1/2 = Above Average
*** = Good **1/2 = Mediocre ** = Fair *1/2 = Poor * = Bad 1/2* = Abysmal