DVD Review: The Device

Published on January 2nd, 2015 in: Current Faves, DVD, DVD/Blu-Ray Reviews, Horror, Movie Reviews, Movies, Reviews, Science Fiction |

By Brad Henderson

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Watching filmmakers and writers grow is a beautiful thing. Through the past couple of years I’ve kept my eye on a few filmmakers like Adam Wingard, Ti West, Adrián Garcia Bogliano, Eric England, and many more. As far as more recent filmmakers, I’ve been following Jeremy Berg and John Portanova. A little while ago I reviewed their directorial feature debut, The Invoking. I was highly impressed with the direction they took with The Invoking and it falls into my category of “story horror” which I’ve described in detail in the past. So when I got word of them doing another horror film, and one involving aliens, I was down.

I’ve seen The Device three times as of today and I dig it, obviously. I’ve always loved the idea of aliens, alien encounters, abductions, and all that. From Whitley Strieber novels to UFO videos online, I’m obsessed. If I were to go into further details on what I believe I would have to write a book about it. For now, let’s talk about The Device.

The Device starts with a fresh new idea and then slowly becomes a story we are familiar with (if you enjoy alien stories and abductions). That’s not a mark against the film at all because it’s full of originality but it does go into some directions we have seen and heard before as well as some we haven’t. In The Device two sisters and the husband of one go up to a cabin to spread the ashes of the sisters’ recently deceased mother. During their visit they encounter a strange black metallic ball that takes ahold of them and makes them sort of obsessed with this device.

What I most liked about this film was the way it presented the alien. The Device is not an invasion or abduction film. It’s almost like a state of confusion and hysteria. The viewer is confused along with the characters in the film. We are faced with the question of what is real and what’s not. Slowly we get information piece by piece and discover what is going on as our characters do. A secret is slowly being revealed as The Device takes hold.

I give mad props to the filmmakers for using practical effects in the film. Even though the alien looks a bit rubbery at times it’s still better than a CGI fest like Dark Skies and other bummer alien flicks. I did like the look of the alien a lot, though. It keeps the traditional Grey Alien look but it looks unique enough in its physique to present some originality.

John Portanova’s script is filled with great lines and there is good chemistry between the actors. Jeremy Berg is also a fantastic director with a distinctive but traditional vision. The shots he uses and the eerie feel he puts into this film make it obvious that Berg is inspired by John Carpenter.. The score in the film is also outstanding and gets your heart racing even in the beginning. The actors in the film are decent and even though they fall short every once in a while, it’s not enough to take you out of the film. David Hogan, who plays Calvin in the film, is the one that seems to have trouble in the beginning, but towards the end he makes a switch into super intense and plays the part very well.

Sadly, this film suffers the same way The Invoking did: horrible freaking artwork. Again, this isn’t the filmmakers’ fault, but I’m guessing Image Entertainment is trying to trick people into thinking this is a Terminator/Independence Day movie and it’s not that at all. The cover looks like some weird sci fi cyborg thing and the back has an alien blowing up a city. Yeah, that’s not even close. This is a alien flick mixed with horror and drama but I’m guessing that kind of movie is hard to market. Unfortunately, this will anger people because they might think they are getting some big alien action flick and in reality it’s the complete opposite.

Jeremy Berg and John Portanova are two to keep an eye on. I’ve heard Portanova is doing a killer Sasquatch film and I’m pretty pumped about that. I can guarantee these guys will be more well-known in the near future because even though they are making a minor impact at the moment, they are taking horror to a new level and I love it.

The Device was released by Image Entertainment on December 16.

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