Bedeviled is the type of teen horror film that thinks it’s being clever. It thinks that it is in on the joke. It thinks its making a joke. The only thing funny about it is the laughable screenwriting and nonsensical internal logic. Beyond that, I don’t know what directors Abel Vang and Burlee Vang were going for.
Imagine a world where teenagers are hooked on the latest hip app, which is essentially an evil Siri. Only, it’s name is Mr. Bedevil and he holds full sentient conversations with the characters in the film, who do not even begin to suspect something might be fishy.
The app goes on to cause “hallucinations” in its users. You know, the generic horror movie junk like knife-wielding clowns and scary grannies and devilish girls with long, gnarled hair who are inexplicably wet (don’t you worry, the kid terrorized in this last scene does stop to go back for his phone despite his situation).
Seemingly, Bedeviled is written by people who have never owned a cell phone in their lives. Nor a laptop. Nor, for that matter, took a math class in high school (x^2 = 81? And the kid doesn’t know the answer?) One character (the buff tech nerd archetype, I guess) spouts computer lingo like he just finished reading IT Jargon for Dummies. The only problem is that almost nothing he says makes any sense. Just because you throw the words “firmware”, “server,” and “Bittorrent” in your script doesn’t mean you’re fooling anybody.
This can almost be forgiven given the characters’ decision-making in the film. At least buff tech kid is trying to solve a problem. The rest of the time, characters walk around as if they have forgotten what is happening to them. Once they do get their heads in the game (at least, two of them do) they make the same stupid decisions that were obvious for horror movies in the 1980s.
Again, it feels like the filmmakers want to be in on the joke. What they forget is that making a film riddled with cliches and inauthentic, unintelligent characters does not alone create a joke. It only creates another film worth making jokes about.
Even something that reads like an obvious punchline is ineffective, as when two characters find a dead body under a bloody sheet and decide to sit down next to it to listen to an exposition-laden tape instead of to, you know, get away from the vicinity of a recent murder.
If it’s not a spoof of genre, then perhaps it is a satire on social media dependence in youth. This, even if it were done well in a film like this, would be in and of itself a cliche at this point.
That’s all there really is to Bedeviled. It is one sorry cliche after another. There’s the teacher character who bangs on desks to wake sleeping students (the hilarity!) and is conveniently lecturing on the very thing that will be terrorizing our characters (in this film it is the abstract concept of fear, which is even lazier than the cliche usually is). There are cymbal clash sound effects at every movement that happens in dark settings—not to mention these dark locales are lit in horrendously pallid blues that change bluer as the scene progresses.
I won’t bother mentioning specifics on the wooden acting or awkward production design or grotesque shooting techniques. I’ve gone on much longer on Bedeviled than it deserves.
I’ll just leave you with this. It’s something that will give you the gist of what we’re dealing with here. How do you get rid of Bedevil? With an app called Unbedeviler, of course! And where do our heroes decide to set up this app? Why, the creepiest warehouse in town, of course!
As always, thanks for reading!
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)