Set in Ireland in the 1960’s two Priests are sent to investigate an apparent miracle in a house for ‘fallen women’ and uncover something truly horrific…
I enjoy the found footage sub-genre of horror. Done well, you get a film as terrifying as [REC], or The Blair Witch Project. Done badly however, you end up with a film like The Devil Inside, which was terrible.
The Devil’s Doorway has several things going for it right from the off. It’s set in the 1960’s the first found footage film I recall set there. It’s shot on film, which of course makes sense given the setting. And in part it shines a light on something that perhaps not many would know about, mainly about the treatment of women, especially unmarried pregnant women, or those with mental health problems and such that was dealt out in houses run by the church. It was a practice that continued up until the 1990’s and it is something that continues, rightly, to be a stain on the catholic church in Ireland.
But back to the movie. The two Priests, Father Thomas and Father John are completely different. Thomas has years of experience, John does not. It is John who is filming everything. Thomas has experience of investigating miracles. John does not.
As with all found footage films, The Devil’s Doorway takes its time, introducing the characters, using the camera to give the audience a general feel for the location.
And then it drops the horror and scares the hell out of you.
With a lot of found footage films, even those I enjoy you can often seen where the scare or jump is going to come from. This film does have some of that going on, but then, with superb use of sound and voices, puts you on edge for a scare you just don’t see coming. And while you are recovering from that, it casually tosses an unsettling moment after too.
The story which starts out as one thing, then thanks to a well written script, turns into something else, is very good indeed. The writers, Martin Brennan, Aislinn Clarke and Michael B Jackson have worked the story out very well indeed.
Aislinn Clarke, also directs the film. It is her debut film and she along with Ryan Kernaghan shoot the film superbly and then with her editor Brian Phillip Davis puts it together superbly. For a debut it is something terrific.
The scares are effective, building to a superbly tense and horrifying ending. One that while it does have slight similarities with another found footage film (and a rather good one) called Borderlands, works superbly.
The performances from the cast are great. Lalor Roddy plays Father Thomas, Ciaran Flynn plays Father John and both are good, but it’s Helena Breen as the Mother Superior. She is utterly terrifying, even before the horror begins!
With terrific music, superb performances, a good script, fantastic direction, The Devil’s Doorway is a brilliant horror. I first saw this at FrightFest London 2018 and thought then it was the scariest found footage film I’d seen since [REC]. I also thought it the scariest film I saw in 2018. Seeing it again on DVD just reinforces this.
I love this film and can’t recommend it enough. If you like found footage horror, horror in general, The Devil’s Doorway is one you want to step through.
Rating: ***** out of 5
PS: One criticism I do have is that DVD cover. I think it’s too generic and dull if I’m honest. Personally, I wish they’d used either of the below instead.