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‘The Devil’s Well’ (2017) [Film Review]

The Devil’s Well is yet another entry in the paranormal investigator found footage canon. This time we follow husband and wife team Bryan (Bryan Manley Davis) and Karla Marks (Anne-Marie Mueschke) as they head to the town of Woodsfield, Connecticut to investigate the aforementioned Devil’s Well which is, well it’s an old well which is said to be a portal to Hell. As an added complication, a textile mill (now abandoned) has been built on the site of the mill. So, there are plenty of dark corridors for them to poke around in once they arrive. Karla detects a presence at the well and would you believe it her camera battery goes mysteriously flat, so naturally Bryan helpfully leaves her alone in the really scary place to get a fresh one from the car.

It’s no surprise to find Karla has vanished by the time Bryan gets back. The local cops search the mill, but no trace of Karla is found, so Bryan gets taken into custody on suspicion of murder. However, with no evidence to support a murder rap the cops have no alternative but to let him go. Months later Bryan is back at the mill in the company of Lucas Baker (Chris Viemeister) and the Supernatural Investigators of the Greater Northeast (SIGNS, I have no idea where the S on the end of the acronym comes from). Along for the ride are former U.S. Marine Kris (David Alexander), techie and psychic doubter Dennis (Jon Gregory), hot girl with tattoos and spectacles Riley (Kristen Sievey), Lucas’ medium sister Lynn (Lauren Sowa) and reluctant filmmaker Kurt (Kurtis Spieler, who is also The Devil’s Well’s actual writer and director keeping things nicely in house) who will conveniently film what happens next for a documentary he is making about SIGNS.

What follows is pretty standard found footage stuff: there’s lots of wandering about in the dark so the cast can point their torches at things, catch fleeting glimpses of ghostly things, get scared and fall out with each other before the serious body count starts to ratchet up. And we are on our way to a not entirely unpredictable denouement.

For a found footage flick, I thought The Devil’s Well was quite cleverly assembled with the extra footage shot for Kurt’s SIGNS documentary neatly framing Bryan and Karls’ “lost tape” retrieved by the Woodsfield Police Department. A series of talking heads set up the film’s main narrative, supported by cut-in local news footage and police interview tapes, leading up to the familiar webcam and POV territory of the film’s conclusion.

Since The Devil’s Well has a mercifully concise running time of around an hour and 30 minutes, the narrative moves along quite rapidly sparing us the kind of irrelevant and mundane padding that blights so many found footage films. Cast performances are pretty solid and there are a couple of decent jump scares aided and abetted by the subtle musical score laid down by Dante Vallee. That said the plot fails to really add anything really new to the lost tapes format to lift The Devil’s Well above any number of similar found footage films in an oversaturated market.

A bit like an edition of Most Haunted only with casualties, The Devil’s Well is out now on DVD. I give it a three-out-of-five stars.

About Simon Ball

Simon is a child of the 1960s, his marmie liked Affred Hitchcock and he grew up on a diet of classic Dr Who, Hammer Horror, Heavy Metal, Goth and Spaghetti Westerns. He cut his journalistic teeth in 1976 interviewing the bass player from an unknown band called Motorhead, now what was his name? Since then he wasted several years in corporate PR, edited heritage products and got an MA in the History of Science before he fell off the truck and returned to the world he loves best. Simon is Editor in Chief of the Horror Hothouse website and a regular contributor to the Spooky Isles.

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