Steve (Scott Poythress) has a bit of a dilemma and he doesn’t know what to do about it because prior to the film’s events, Scott trapped the devil in a cupboard in his basement.
Worse still, Scott’s brother, Matt (AJ Bowen) and his wife, Karen (Susan Burke) have unexpectedly turned up for Christmas dinner. Scott’s anxiety and paranoia hit the roof as the family’s evening goes on, he soon realises that there’s nothing else for it – he has to tell his dinner guests about what’s in the basement, no matter the cost.
I Trapped the Devil is the first feature film from writer/director Josh Lobo. The unique premise says a lot about this first-time writer and I’m sure there will be more original writing in his future. Unfortunately, the premise for the film is far more interesting than its execution. What could have been a tense thriller or a dark comedy instead ends up being something more meandering than its promising set up.
The film slowly builds the tension that Scott is feeling until the audience is sure that he is about to burst, but from that moment on the rest of the film feels more like an idea that got out of hand, with no real direction to a satisfying conclusion.
When confronted with whatever is in the basement, Lobo’s depiction of what lies below the house is again an interesting idea and is well executed, able to give the audience a sense of curiosity. However, there’s only so much time that the camera can spend lingering on a locked door so the rest of the film has to rely on its cast who all deal with the situation surprising calmly and mostly in a quite sensible manner.
Also, the brief sequences of whatever may be in Scott’s mind as he loses his grip on reality are done well and show promise visually, with an artistic flair. Although, when coupled with deeper conversations about the concept of evil and what it means for humanity, the film comes across as if the director wanted to do something much more intense and intellectual but felt it may go over better in the guise of a horror movie.
I Trapped the Devil is an ambitious idea, but beyond the premise it doesn’t deliver on what it promises. The ending is unsatisfying, leaving the audience confused but not in a good way where they can discuss the film later, but rather that the writer/director may not have known himself how it was going to end.
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