Film Review: The Devil’s Work (A Night of Horror International Film Festival)
A Night of Horror International Film Festival is around the corner for horror fans in Sydney, Australia. It is an unmissable event for those of us looking to expand the list of horror films we see this year beyond what Netflix has delivered. As well as some rad international horror films, the festival offers Sydney filmgoers the chance to see what home-grown horrors the Australian independent scene has unleashed upon the world.
This includes the festival’s opening night feature, The Devils Work. a world premiere for writer-director Ursula Dabrowsky’s third horror film in her Demons trilogy, along with the canonically unrelated Family Demons and Inner Demon. Despite its name, there are no spinning heads or pea-green spew; this stalker-slasher explores the impact of unbridled family demons. However, these are not the kind of tensions that make Christmas day awkward; more like the kind that end in blood spray.
Charlie (Cassandra Kane) and Dustin (Mark Fantasia) have arrived at a remote home for a romantic getaway, much needed for Charlie after one of her recurring family arguments. But their trip is soon interrupted by her blood-covered, hammer-wielding younger sister Lindy (Luca Asta Sardelis). As a night of stalking plays out, Charlie realises she greatly misjudged the effects of the latest family clash and her sister’s sanity.
This film is too marvellously chaotic to be described with the overused phrase of ‘cat and mouse’ as the cast of three carry off this exhilarating sort of outdoor claustrophobia that The Devil’s Work exudes. Sardelis simply goes all-out with her performance as the unhinged lindy. It is clear that, as with her other two films, Dabrowsky has concerned her films with the horror of broken families. The devil’s work uses the slasher subgenre to restate the often under-discussed traumatic impact of emotional and verbal domestic abuse.
A central reason The Devil’s Work is worth experiencing at A Night of Horror Film Festival is that it seamlessly looks like the entire movie is filmed in one take. Very few imperceptible edits make The Devil’s Work a single (one hour and 20 min) long-take. This means no cuts between scenes, and the effect is excitingly dizzying and totally immersive (a dark cinema and a giant screen would certainly compound this.) The era of jump cut scares is over; it is time to embrace spinning around with the camera to see who is behind you. It’s an ambitious technique that shows the craftsmanship of all involved in making the film. If you are curious about this kind of film experience and can attend a film festival in Sydney, The Devil’s Work is worth checking out.
The Devil’s Work premieres at a night of horror film festival on the 28th of September, including a Q and A with director and cast members. Tickets are available here.
“This film is too marvellously chaotic to be described with the overused phrase of ‘cat and mouse’ as the cast of three carry off this exhilarating sort of outdoor claustrophobia”