In the 60s, Irish homes for ‘fallen women’ were a bit extreme. The Devil’s Doorway – movie review

My fellow readers know it already: I don’t like found-footage style horror flicks. Only a handful of them are worth investing your time in, in my opinion. I must add, I’m also growing a bit tired of formulaic possession flicks that, 90% of the time, are boring and tiresome as hell!

Well, The Devil’s Doorway combines the ‘exorcism subgenre’ with the found-footage style of filmmaking. Why, then, did I go out of my way to seek this film out? According to critics and people who watched it at film festivals, this 75-minute-long flick stands out above most of found-footage flicks, in both its scare factor and the way it’s presented.

Devil's Doorway 1Was it the case? First, it’s worth introducing the simple but effective set-up. In the autumn of 1960, Father Thomas (an old priest with an unconventional and scientific approach to religious matters, played by Lalor Roddy) and Father John (a young, much more pious and devoted blackcoat) were sent by the Vatican to investigate a miraculous event in an Irish home for ‘fallen women’, only to uncover something much more horrifying.

The Devil’s Doorway utilises a background the shadiness surrounding the Magdelene sisters, who mistreated – in the 60s, in some Irish homes for people in need – the inmates and abused them to various degrees. These real events give a nasty feeling to a movie that’s shot in quite a unique way:  using the old-school aspect ratio and digitally added filters that give this flick a real-film stock vibe, The Devil’s Doorway appears more realistic than most found-footage flicks.

Continue reading and check my final grade below…

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Devil's Doorway 2.jpgThe realism, which should be the first thing a found-footage flick has going for itself, is enhanced by the lack of dull moments. Other than a couple of scenes where the camera doesn’t really need to be on, The Devil’s Doorway doesn’t waste any time with uneventful and pointless dialogue that wouldn’t implement the story in any way. Instead, the camera films only what should be filmed and that makes for a more enthralling and intense watch. Indeed, the pace is rather fast – contrarily to what happens in more gimmick-driven, boring found-footage flicks.

The downside, however, is that the characters aren’t really fleshed out: there are only a few hints to their backstory and motivations. Nevertheless, if you want to make a realistic found-movie, you know that’s a risk you might face. And here it pays off, in my opinion, since I’d rather know a little less about the characters in this type of film rather than wasting time with exposition-driven dialogues as interesting as watching a wall.

If I had to pinpoint an aspect of The Devil’s Doorway that takes away from the realism and was rather annoying, that would be the sound. First of all, having music playing in the background makes the footage instantly unrealistic: it makes you, as a viewer, remember you’re watching a movie instead of helping the suspension of disbelief. Also, the sounds added in post-production only generate more cheap, useless jump-scares.

Devil's Doorway 3.jpgSpeaking of scary moments, they were hit and miss for me. Especially during the first half of the film, they were subtle enough to be effective, whereas as soon as The Devil’s Doorway tried to go out with a bang they became over-the-top and a bit annoying.

The last 15 minutes – where this type of flicks feel the need to go overboard for some inexplicable reason – were very reminiscent of Grave Encounters. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed that movie for what it was, but in a film like The Devil’s Doorway, which relies on a more “laid-back” approach and vibe, this ending seemed just formulaic and put there for the sake of it.

Bridging back to my initial question, is this one of the best found-footage flicks in years, being a ode to The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby? Well no, but I’d like the critics, who stated that, to pass the weed, it must give you a hell of a trip! Jokes apart, I do believe this movie is much better than the found-footage garbage we so often have to endure. If you’re a fan of this type of filmmaking as well as of stories that revolve around possessions and exorcism, then The Devil’s Doorway should be your cup of tea.

The Devil’s Doorway                       6.5/10