In Devil’s Gate, which has its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year, an FBI agent (Amanda Schull) and a North Dakota deputy (Shawn Ashmore) investigate the disappearance of a woman and her daughter. The trail leads them to the missing woman’s husband’s (Milo Ventimiglia) farm, which holds a dark secret.
Clay Staub directs this well-polished sci-fi horror thriller that’s devastated by the horrendous screenplay he co-wrote with Peter Aperlo. Watching Ventimiglia’s stellar performance comes with sheer embarrassment as he attempts to act his way through atrocious dialogue that will have the audience reacting as if they’re looking at a car wreck in slow motion. Schull constantly has the look of a deer in headlights, acting as if she’s in shock, trying to understand what she did to end up in this butchering. She reads lines without emotion as if going through the motions just to get the work done as quick as possible, which ultimately kills any of the film’s impact and makes the reveals even more laughable. In fact, Staub and Aperlo’s screenplay feels the need to explain everything, forcing all of the characters to vomit out ridiculous dialogue that’s cringe-worthy. The script, to say the least, is this film’s worst enemy.
It’s a shame, really, as Devil’s Gate utilizes stunning cinematography and camera work to create a gorgeous looking film that’s topped with extraordinary special effects. Practical effects. Yes, joining the ranks of The Void, there’s a plethora of creature work that’s astounding, which makes all of the aforementioned problems sting all the more. Devil’s Gate is quite literally the anti-Void.
In the end, it’s a surreal experience watching Ventimiglia’s deadpan serious performance in an otherwise idiotic film. A mixed bag of interesting ideas are transformed into a pile of garbage in this laughable and forgettable movie that’s nothing short of a trainwreck.