I Trapped the Devil
i trapped the devil | josh lobo | scott poythress | aj bowen | susan burke | drama | mystery | united states | christmas | devil | demon | rowan russell | john marrott | jocelin donahue | chris sullivan | aaron larsen | jack vernon | victoria smith
Film: I Trapped the Devil
Director: Josh Lobo
Writer: Josh Lobo
Starring: Scott Poythress, AJ Bowen and Susan Burke
This was a film that I wanted to see earlier this year, but I couldn’t catch it at the Gateway Film Center. The schedule just didn’t align for it. Now I did get to see this as part of my year end round up and it doubled as a Christmas film as that’s when it takes place. I was stoked to learn that AJ Bowen and Jocelin Donahue both are in it as well. The synopsis is a man descends into paranoia after trapping what he believes to be the Devil in his basement, but things take a dark turn when his family unexpectedly arrives for Christmas.
To start this out, we get a surreal scene of the police busting into a house. The door looks to be nailed shut with boards. It is in slow motion if my memory serves and it then cuts us to what leads to this happening. A married couple of Matt (Bowen) and Karen (Susan Burke) arrive at a house. It is snowy out and there’s an eerie feel as the windows seem to be covered and blacked out. Matt forces his way in to find junk is blocking the door. Karen finds empty bullet casings in the snow as well.
The house belongs to Steve (Scott Poythress). It actually seems to be the old family home. The reason the couple came up is Steve is troubled. He hasn’t handled the death of his wife very well and from what I gathered, it happened during a major accident at a train station. Steve tells them they can’t be there and we know there’s something not quite right.
He reveals what it is. Steve has a man locked in the basement behind a door with a cross on it and he’s claiming the man is the Devil. We hear his voice, that of Chris Sullivan, pleading to be let out. Steve tries to convince Matt that what he’s saying is real and shows an attic room where he has newspaper clippings and documents on the ceiling with lines of yarn connecting them.
The couple thinks that he’s descending into madness due to the death of Sarah, his wife, as well as the isolation. The more they learn though, the more they start to think he might be telling at least some truths. Steve is also tormented with an old television that shows jumbled images of his wife, Jocelin Donahue, as well as receiving disturbing phone calls. The real questions are who is the man in the basement? And is Steve going crazy?
Now I briefly heard about this film and it really peaked my interest. It has a concept that I can really get down for. As I recapped, Steve thinks that he has the Devil trapped in his basement. His brother and his brother’s wife are concerned that with the death of his wife and daughter, that he’s going crazy. At first that is exactly what we’re presented with. There are little subtle things as this progresses where we are starting to question whether Steve could be telling the truth and even the other two start to wonder as well.
The problem though becomes that this is an extremely slow movie. I dig slow-burns, but I think that this takes it a bit too far if I’m going to be honest. It is interesting as the runtime is at 82 minutes, so it should fly by. The problem that I had was that it really drug for me. The story is interesting, but we just get a lot of people standing around talking. Steve seeing his deceased wife on the old television is a good move. That was creepy and I didn’t know what we were getting here. What I think they should have done was allow us to hear what he’s getting over the phone. It wasn’t as effective for me to just see his face as he’s freaked out. There’s just a long stretch of not enough happening to build up enough tension for this to work like it should. With that said, I did dig the ending and the implications that come with it.
Before moving away from the story though, there’s an interesting concept that Steve brings up. There are two types of evils according to him. There’s just the evil of man that isn’t as bad and then there’s pure evil. He thinks he’s found a connection from what happened to his family that there’s actually a person that is spreading it. I think exploring this a bit more than what we got might have helped as well. It is really an idea that sucked me for sure.
The acting was really good though. Poythress being introduced the way he is works. We are given that he’s crazy or that he’s isolated himself where it might be detrimental. The movie then presents that maybe he’s not and telling the truth. On the converse, Bowen and Burke, are a great couple. They’re supposed to be almost like us and the more they learn about what Steve is doing, the more they’re thinking it could be real. I thought Sullivan’s voice as the The Man was good. It sounds quite creepy for sure. I was stoked to see Donahue here, as I absolutely love her. I wanted more if I’m honest, but it doesn’t make sense with her character and she does add some nightmare fuel there. The rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed.
That takes me to the effects of this movie, which to be honest there aren’t a lot. We get some gunshots and they were done practical. They do a solid job at hiding them, which makes it more effective. The blood we get looked good. This gave me flashes of Mario Bava or Suspiria in that they use this harsh red light quite a few times. I think it is a good move to make things feel more eerie. It is also shot very well along with that.
Now with that said, this film really did catch my interest, but just didn’t live up to what I wanted. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it. It is a slow-burn that moves just a little bit too slow and needed a bit more for me. I think there’s some concepts that could have been fleshed out a bit more to make this better. It really is a good character study of these three people with The Man looming in the basement. Who is he and is he the Devil? I thought the acting really did bring to this to life. The use of color was good to see and the effects were solid. The soundtrack was really good in building the tension during scenes. Not one I would listen to when writing, but worked for what was needed here for sure. I personally found this to be above average. There are pieces to this though that could have made this much stronger, they just didn’t go far enough for me.
My Rating: 7 out of 10