The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Signs had a baby: Devil’s Gate – movie review

FBI Special Agent Daria Francis (Amanda Shull) and police officer Colt Salter (Shawn Ashmore) are investigating the mysterious disappearance of Jackson (Milo Ventimiglia)’s wife and son under shady circumstances.

When evidences lead them back to Jackson’s farm, the two officers will be trapped into something greater than them, something in the guise of supernatural and otherworldly…

Devil's gate 1Devil’s Gate is a Sci-Fi/horror movie I was very pumped to watch: for starter, the cast is filled with honest actors who we wouldn’t usually see in a low-budget flick; secondly, this is the directorial debut of Clay Staub – second unit director of Dawn of the Dead (2004) and 300 (2006), a man that clearly knows how action in film works.

Needless to say, the film kicks off rather promising, with an opening title preceded by an intense scene and a setting that strongly reminds the viewer of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (especially the 2003 remake) … in fact, these locations would have been perfect for Leatherface (2017), or at least better than what we eventually got.

Also, the acting is on par with what you’d expect from the cast: both Shull (Pretty Little Liars, Suits) and Ashmore (X-Men original trilogy) give solid performances and their characters are well-developed through compelling dialogue scenes and nice, entertaining one-liners (which also work decently as comic relief).

Yet, what the two investigators find in Jackson’s basement enhances the mystery aspect of Devil’s Gate and, thus, increases the tension even in the more uneventful moments.

However, almost half way through the movie, an incredibly amateur and cheesy use of CGI made me suddenly go like: “oh no…” and, from that moment on, Devil’s Gate progressively slips back to a messy, convoluted story where aliens and angels might be involved.

It truly shocked me how such a promising first half could turn, all of the sudden, into a barely understandable mashup of Signs (2002) and Stargate (1994). The tension that arose before is completely gone in the second part of the film, where the viewer finds himself more focused in following the convoluted plot than feeling nervous and on the edge for what’s on the silver screen.

Devil's Gate 2.jpgYet, Milo Ventimiglia’s character transformation sums up perfectly the inconsistencies in tone and screenplay of the movie: at first, he’s a quite complex and interesting character, portrayed with enough subtlety. Then, he changes completely and becomes annoying at best, with his constant yelling and pitiful cry.

Again, the overreliance on cheap computer-generated images in the second half of the movie is very distracting and, at points, almost laughable.

Plus, Devil’s Gate features two different endings (as to symbolise the duplicity of the film), both within the movie! One of them comes after the end credits, as though the filmmakers weren’t satisfied enough with the way they concluded this flick.

Still, due to a very promising first act, good performances and an overall entertaining action, Devil’s Gate is a rather watchable and, for some, even enjoyable movie. I can’t exactly say why, but I also believe some people might praise it for being very entertaining and scary… although for sure I’m not one of them.

Devil’s Gate                           5/10

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imdb My review is also available on IMDb – Devil’s Gate 

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