Devil’s Mile is a crazy ambitious movie. Which is and isn’t a compliment. It’s a hybrid film, one that attempts to blend a crime thriller with supernatural horror in the vein of Lovecraft. While that sounds like a tantalizing proposition, Devil’s Mile is bogged down by miserable pacing, flaccid scares, and an exaggerated sense of importance. Nearly half the film is consumed by the leads arguing with each other, spouting expletives like it’s going outta style. The few moments of horror are borderline intense, but there’s too much narrative vacancy to make Devil’s Mile worth the watch.
The story revolves around three criminals driving through the Bermuda Triangle of highways, with two kidnapped girls in the truck. Their pseudo-ringleader Toby (played by X-Men screenwriter David Hayter) is a hothead, which leads to some of the film’s most miserable moments. There’s a scene where he says “fuck you” about a dozen times. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be funny, but it’s just comes off dumb. I’m all for hamming it up, but Devil’s Mile‘s acting is just plain terrible.
It takes a long time for the meat of the story to kick in. Meanwhile, flashbacks/flash-forwards serve to make the narrative interesting enough to keep watching. But the pay-off at the end isn’t worth it. There are some terrificly scary moments with fantastic ghost designs, but in the grand scheme these are mere jump scare moments that any casual horror audience would laugh over. They feel intense, but there’s nothing to really get under you skin or stay with you after the film.
The term “Lynchian” has been perverted over the years and gets thrown around a lot, usually when a filmmaker is trying to be weird for weirdness sake, without any real thematic or pulpy endgame in mind. Devil’s Mile certainly falls in this category. It’s like filmmaker Joseph O’Brien is pounding you over the head with his alleged self-importance without having anything to back it up. It’s a frustrating experience.