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[Review] ‘The Diabolical’ a Peculiar Haunted House Thriller With a Scif-Fi Twist


The problem with reviewing movies with Shyamalan-esque twist endings is that you can’t properly discuss some of the most important elements of the story without spoiling it for future viewers. That’s why I think The Diabolical’s final reveal is worth preserving, even though we’ve seen this kind of surprise before. It’s important that you know the ending will alter your view of the rest of the film, but there will be no spoilers here. Alistair Legrand presents us with a peculiar film that’s only really complete once the credits are rolling and you’re putting the pieces together in your mind.

The film stars Ali Larter (Claire Redfield from the Resident Evil movies) as Madison, a single mother struggling to keep the family together after a tragedy leaves her and her children emotionally and financially vulnerable. This is made worse by the phantasmal being that’s apparently haunting her house. She’s joined by Arjun Gupta as Nikolai, her charming love interest with both scientific and supernatural experience that tries to help her get to the bottom of what’s truly going on.

At times the conflict surround Madison and her family seems unnecessary and contrived, but the great mood and character building compensates for some cartoonish real-world antagonists and plot threads that seemingly go nowhere. This makes you feel genuinely sorry for the broken family, making the rest of the movie much more suspenseful. The science fiction angle really helps sell the haunted house concept to jaded viewers, and though there are some of the usual horror movie tropes present, almost all of them are justified within the story.

The scares aren’t as frequent as some would like, but they’re certainly memorable. However, towards the end of the film you start to see and know more of the beings coming into Madison’s world, removing a lot of the horror factor. This is unavoidable, and without it the story wouldn’t be as impacting, but it still affects the experience.

The “monsters” are also genuinely unsettling whenever they’re onscreen, with some great makeup making you believe these beings are made of flesh and blood and are not just harmless apparitions. Some of the digital effects seem somewhat rushed, but that’s just a minor issue. Overall, the presentation is fantastic, and the direction ties it all together wonderfully. It may be Legrand’s first film, but at no moment does his direction feel amateurish.

The Diabolical is the basic story of a mother ready to do whatever it takes to protect her family, even in the face of a horrifying unknown force. Though it’s weighed down by some extraneous moments and usually lacks tension when the otherworldly invaders aren’t around, this is a thoroughly enjoyable film that’s especially entertaining for repeating viewers. Some of the more attentive audience members may guess the ending at around the halfway point, but even then, there’s still enough reason to keep watching.



  • MaryMaria

    I was very underwhelmed by this movie, unfortunately. While I appreciate the alternative take on haunted houses, there was just too much that I didn’t like about it. I can’t say much without spoiling things, unfortunately, but let’s just say that some of the characters’ reactions to events were puzzlingly laughable and unrealistic, and the low-budget digital effects didn’t help, either. You’re right about the cartoony antagonists, too. I think it could have been really good, and at its core, it has a fresh take about it, but it felt like a first pass. I hope the director can do better in his future, and I’ll look forward to watching his films.

  • Halloween_Vic

    When I saw the trailer I was like ” great another haunted house film. ” But I like Ali as an actress and after reading your review on the sci fi added element and on the beings, I’m interested now in watching this! I’ll check this out when is the official release? Or did it come out already?

    • Scifi_Fables 2014

      I’m up voting your comment not because of the comment but because of your pic. Michael Myers is to October, what Father Christmas is to December and this is the first time I’ve actually seen a Myers pic this October so an upvote for you.

  • Scifi_Fables 2014

    Same here. The original Halloween film was the first real horror I watched growing up, and I’ve been in love with the series ever since and hearing that a new one is being made was one of the greatest moments of my year.

    • Halloween_Vic

      OMG bro me too!!! I was 6 years old when my mom sat me down and played the original Halloween on VHS. It was my first ever Horror film and I was terrified but also amazed at it, you know it was just a completely different world from cartoons and GI Joe and power rangers you get me? But that’s the movie that started it all for me and turned me into the Horror nerd I am today lol I’m 24 years old now so yea. But bro don’t get me started on the new Halloween details, I’m beyond excited word’s can’t express, I just hope they make this one a lot like the original and bring back that fear and presence Michael had in the first. Anything to see Mikey on the big screen is epic! I’m so stoked for this, I just wish we got updated news on it and that they started filming because I really don’t want them to sit on this for another 6 years that would flat out suck!!!!

      • Scifi_Fables 2014

        I was the same, the switch from Power Rangers to Halloween was like jumping into freezing cold water on a hot day. It was nothing I’d ever seen before. It’s what made me fall in love with horrors not the gory kind, I’m not a fan of that, for me Halloween was a true horror film, yes it had a guy with a knife but that wasn’t the main point they didn’t show gallons of blood like a lot of films today, it was more about Michael stalking them, and us as viewers trying to work out where he was, was he behind that door or in that shadow, it actually had me sleeping with the lights on for a long time, even now I keep the landing light on just in case.

        • Halloween_Vic

          Bro same here man, I loved Halloween not for gore and clearly the original barely had gore, it was all about the suspense, the darkness, the theme song and Michael himself. That’s why slashers are my favorite of the genre, but Halloween is the reason I love horror, it was the gateway. Till this day to be honest not just because Michael is my favorite horror icon or Halloween being my favorite franchise but in all honesty I still have not seen a Horror film that tops Halloween, I just haven’t. It’s the best Horror film to date.

  • Halloween_Vic

    HOLY SHIT!!! Ayy man he did awesome with the house literally angle for angle looks like the original Myers house. I would love to do that If I had the funds and resources lol that would be pretty epic!!! I’d definitely shoot my own fan film in their!! Pure bad-assness!!!

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