Demons, Horror, Monsters, Supernatural

The Devil’s Business (2011)

Comments Off on The Devil’s Business (2011) 19 March 2015

The Devil's Business

Studio:  SHH Films

Distributed By:  Mondo Macabro

Blu-ray Release:  October 14, 2014

Director:  Sean Hogan

Rating:  Not Rated

Reviewed By James M. Dubs

I’ll watch anything…including The Devil’s Business.

This will probably be my most lean review to date. It’s fitting considering that The Devil’s Business clocks in at a very slim and trim 73 minutes, asking the viewer to spend only marginally longer with its characters than your typical 60 minute television program of choice. On the outset, it doesn’t seem like too much to ask, but when TV offers so much in the scares and thrills department, ranging from The Walking Dead to Hannibal, is it even worth meddling with The Devil’s Business?

Film Rating: ★★★½☆

DB_3Veteran hitman Pinner (Billy Clarke) and his young, inexperienced ward Cully (Jack Gordon) break into a house at night, awaiting the return of owner Kist (Jonathan Hansler) whom their gangland boss Bruno (Harry Miller) wants dead, with no questions asked.

As Midnight approaches, Pinner keeps the nervous Cully entertained with an eerie story about a previous hit he had carried out on a beautiful striptease dancer. Before he can finish his tale, a sound from outside the house draws them into the night, and to a horrifying discovery that is only the start of their long night of terror.

DB_5There are both positive and negative attributes to The Devil’s Business and fortunately there are more of the former than the latter. Unfortunately, right off the bat, the film will challenge the viewer to stick around for the full 73 minutes by beginning with 20 minutes of Pinner’s exposition as he relents to Cully’s request for “the most f—ed up story you know.” Pinner offers his tale about the hit on Bruno’s stripper, but the actors are given nothing else to do other than sitting in chairs, staring at each other in the dark.

Hogan’s directing is uninspired for the first 20 minutes, choosing to lock down his camera and only cut between the actors periodically. The sequence feels like a poorly directed stage play and, with budget limits, the production can’t afford a costly flashback sequence. Fortunately, Hogan’s script is good and he gives actor Billy Clarke (Pinner) the right words to say. And Clarke is up to the challenge of single handedly holding this entire opening sequence together. He embodies the veteran hitman and we believe that he’s seen and done the horrible things he is describing. There’s an edge in his dialogue delivery that feels both haunted and sad, but also strong and determined because hitmen aren’t allowed to feel such emotions.

DB_8Once you break through the first 20 minutes, the remaining 53 minutes flow effortlessly as new clues, scares, and twists are introduced before our characters. Hogan’s directing takes an incredible leap for the better as he uses more of his filmmaking tools to convey the information we crave. Acting remains strong by the small cast, and there is moderate use of practical gore and make-up effects during the final act.

To sum it all up, The Devil’s Business would slip seamlessly as an entry into a number of serialized anthology shows like The Twilight Zone, Hammer House of HorrorChiller, Masters of Horror, to name but a few. It follows many of the tried and true formulas that make horror films successful, while focusing on the characters. Even though Pinner’s monologue is important, getting through the first 20 minutes may prove mildly challenging. However, if you hang tight you will be rewarded with a moderately chilling tale with strong performances and a solid climax that will leave you satisfied by the film’s end.

The Devil’s Business won’t top any of the must see lists but it is perfect, spooky entertainment for someone looking for a Tales From The Crypt kind of fright.

Video & Audio Rating: ★★½☆☆

DB_7Shot with a consumer Canon 5D DSLR, video looks generally good, especially for a production with a low budget shot in eight days. Immediately I noticed that whites translated incredibly hot. When flashlight beams hit the lens you don’t get a lens flare effect that is produced from light hitting optics to film stock. Instead the video card on the camera cannot process the information and instead of a lens flare the white hot light turns into a blue, blocky mass. It’s a digital anomaly that I am not accustomed to seeing as part of “film language” and is only being identified because these unintended surprises can momentarily distract from the narrative. Aside from some of these anomalies, the video presentation is strong.

Audio overall is very good.  The best thing I can say about the audio…I didn’t notice it. Dialogue was clear, music was moody and atmospheric, and sound effects were minimal but impactful. The discs give you the option to choose between a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix or a 2.0 stereo. Each one is really designed for your particular home set-up, and there aren’t any pros or cons for either.

Extras Rating: ★★★★☆

DB_2Admittedly I may be grading on a curve. Perhaps I’m giving this blu-ray/DVD combo considerable more leeway than I would a big budget film, but I was thoroughly impressed with the special features for The Devil’s Business. The extras lack the polish you may be accustomed to, but the content is interesting, the interviews prove to be very relevant, and the disc delivers an incredible array of special features when painting the total picture of a production. Extras include:

  • Filmmaker’s Audio Commentary with Sean Hogan and Jennifer Handorf
  • Interviews
    • Idle Hand Are The Devil’s Playthings: The Making of The Devil’s Business (9:15)
    • Actor Billy Clarke (13:04)
    • Writer/Director Sean Hogan (26:19)
    • Producer Jennifer Handorf (12:34)
    • The Devil Has All The Best Tunes: an interview with Composer Justin Greaves (15:57)
  • Music Videos
    • Laying Traps by Crippled Black Phoenix
    • Northern Comfort by Crippled Black Phoenix
    • Chasing Changes by Se Delan
  • Outtake Footage (0:51)
  • More from Mondo Macabro (9:36)

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

DB_4With the immense success of shows like The Walking Dead, horror has hit the mainstream. So much so that genre fans are getting rewarded with comebacks once believe to be impossible – like the upcoming Starz series Ash Vs. Evil Dead that will reunite Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi! In the grand scheme of things, The Devil’s Business can seem kind of ho-hum, but don’t write it off.

As a collector of shows like The Twilight Zone, Thriller, and Tales from the Darkside, adding The Devil’s Business to my collection was pretty easy. The Devil’s Business may not blow you away but it offers the kind of classic ghost story that we tell over camp fires. Take into account the impressive special features and this release is a very well rounded product worth checking out.


- who has written 70 posts on UnRated Film Review Magazine | Movie Reviews, Interviews.

James Dubs is a father and husband who loves his family first and movies a close second. He believes every movie is worth watching once and, as a film fan and critic, believes that even the worst movies offer something in return. His mission is to watch anything and report without pretension. Follow James Dubs on Twitter and send him suggestions on movies you would like reviewed - popular, obscure, independent, etc. He'll watch anything for you.

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