Netflix’s been knocking it out of the park with their horror section lately. And, by lately, I mean in the last year and a half. Despite that, it took me quite some time and persuasion from friends in horror groups on Facebook to finally give May the Devil Take You a chance.
Honestly, I was convinced this was going to be a thirteen-in-a-dozen possession flick, due to the poster [photo] and the fact that I knew nothing about the filmmakers behind this movie. I was gladly proven wrong as May the Devil Take You is more a possession/supernatural horror movie along the lines of Sam Raimi’s most famous works… Indonesian style.
Don’t let the subtitles discourage you, though, since there’s very little dialogue in the film and it’s not even that relevant. In fact, the story in general is rather simple and mostly utilised an excuse to showcase some crazy scenes and over-the-top content.
Alfie is a young girl, whose father is inexplicably sick (for her, since the opening scene shows us how he basically sold his soul to essentially a messenger of the devil), who seeks answers at daddy’s old mansion, where she and her stepsister uncover dark truths; in the meantime, Alfie’s stepmom is being awful to her, whereas her stepbrother shows kindness and empathy.
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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What I really like about May the Devil Take You – and I believe most people will appreciate as well about the film – is that it doesn’t waste any time. The opening scene and one brief confrontation inside the hospital where Alfie’s dad is held are extremely creepy and full of spooky imagery: the dad’s ‘sickness’ is shown in a very graphic and gross way, which resembles a lot many scenes from Drag me to Hell (2009). Yet, despite the nearly-two-hour-long runtime, this film manages to be a rollercoaster of fear, frightening scenes and overall exciting content and sequences.
If you haven’t seen this movie yet, to give you an idea of how bonkers it is, just imagine that what similar American horror flicks save for their grand finale, here happens within the first 20 to 30 minutes. Also, May the Devil Take You increases in intensity as the scenes go by, up to a climactic final act which is truly blood-filled and intense.
Also, the filmmakers behind this picture knew full well they couldn’t top Evil Dead’s brilliance, therefore they went the extra mile and replaced the darkly comedic aspects of Raimi’s classic with music and cinematography that make the film perhaps less entertaining but definitely more intense and frightening.
The music, in particular, is extremely on spot: similarly to Argento’s horror films, May the Devil Take You utilises two or three recurring songs that, besides being very fitting, also create a dreadful and surreal atmosphere that combines perfectly with the scary bits.
As I said, the other aspect that elevates this film above the level of your average possession flick is the cinematography: very inspired by Raimi (once again), this movie features some impressive shots, like the camera following the evil presence’s POV or showing characters from unnatural angles when they’re in dangerous situations.
This is one of those movies I have no trouble recommending to both the average horror fan (unless gore grosses you out easily) and viewer who seeks different kind of horror films (unless you’re only into extremely unconventional horror movies).
However, I do have a few minor complaints with May the Devil Take You. For instance, the ending goes on for a little too long in my opinion, since it loses a bit of impact and focus. Had it been 5 minutes shorter, it’d have been perfect.
Yet, the acting is a little shaky: it might be an acquired taste, but I often find Indonesian films to be overacted and May the Devil Take You is no exception.
At the beginning of the film, while the credits are rolling, we experience some heavy exposition shown to the audience through media coverage and newspapers. Considering how basic and simple the storyline is, this choice is a bit insulting towards the intelligence of your viewers.
Finally, there are a few sequences that unnecessarily use jump-scares. Now, I understand why movies like Wish Upon, Ouija, Truth or Dare and the likes rely on jump-scares: they’ve got nothing to offer, they’re washed out PG-13 cash-grabs that cannot divert from their studio’s marketing agendas, and without jump-scares they’d be unwatchable even for the least demanding horror fans. However, the scenes in which May the Devil Take You uses this cheap technique would be as effective without the jump-scares, due to the incredible practical effects, believable CGI and great cinematography. Why ruin these moments with a loud noise that only releases tension as opposed to keeping it for a longer time? I think this is the biggest mistake this very good movie made.
Still, as I said before, May the Devil Take You is a surprisingly good scary movie: it’s inventive, entertaining, it pays homage to a filmmaker everyone seems to love and so on. Despite its shortcoming, I strongly recommend it.
May the Devil Take You 7.5/10