As the sleek looking box art would suggest ‘The Device’ is, at its heart, a science fiction movie with a light scattering of horror elements. I am aware of Jeremy Berg’s other movie ‘The Invoking’ – a very minimalistic supernatural chiller, big on atmosphere and character; and this, like that, takes elements of the horror movie formula but puts it into a more dramatic, and I suppose in some aspects, more ‘real-life’ scenario.
‘The Device’, which is apparently inspired by real life alien abductions, follows the misfortune of two sisters, who, upon revisiting the site of the family cabin to scatter their mothers realise that the location means more to the family than mere sentiment. It transpires after a bit of awkward conversation that the younger of the two siblings was found unconscious and up the duff in those very woods many years ago. She never really spoke about what happened, and the other sister grew up believing that her nearest and dearest had been kidnaped and raped by her unscrupulous boyfriend of the time. Still, she would come to realise that some things are best left un-explained, as in a nearby pond she finds fragments of a downed craft and an odd black orb. From then on in things don’t really go the way she thought they might, with crazy nightmares and visions being the least of her worries! Back at home she finds her family acting up, her boyfriend becoming increasingly obsessed with ‘The Device’ and a bun in the oven! Who’s the father? She better had hope that it isn’t that weird pale guy with big eyes and equally large hands who keeps visiting her every night!
As a movie it really is a tale of two perspectives, and for me the formula used is a lot more effective in ‘The Device’ than it was in ‘The Invoking’. I am unsure of the director’s true intentions, but I got the feeling that he wasn’t really trying to break the mould on the whole abduction genre, and as such the alien sequences are pretty much as standard as they come – midnight visits which involve bright lights, creepy humanoid ETs and weird voices. From anyone looking for a new take on a familiar subject this isn’t the movie, and initially I felt a little robbed that after what was a fairly decent built up quickly became cliché – hell you even see the aliens in the first half hour. That said, as the movie progressed I quickly realised that Berg’s second agenda was actually panning out quite nicely, and that is how a regular person/family would actually have to deal with such an ordeal.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t really have any tendency to believe in aliens, UFO or any such lore, but you can’t deny the vast reports of the instance of abduction and impregnation. Believe it or not from an objective point of view, there are people who believe that such events have happened to them – and they must live in a world whose reality quickly collapse around them as they struggle to deal with the trauma. In this movie the characters are well developed and the casting appropriate, and the script manages to stay focused on ensuring things don’t get too silly. It isn’t long before you are genuinely interested in the family’s history, and how they are going to deal with their current plight. Abby (Angela De Marco) is determined to stay rationale, despite the disturbance and the rather unexpected pregnancy, but the odds are against her. Her sister (Kate Alden) is becoming more and more cryptic, and as madness consumes the boyfriend (David S. Hogan) his schizophrenic performance really bears down on the whole atmosphere and tension in the movie. Hogan’s performance is actually the linchpin to the success of the whole film – he makes it all seem quite believable to be honest, and brings the horror out of the darkness and probe-wielding night terrors which was a nice change of pace.
Overall, ‘The Device’ is for people who are looking for a horror tinged drama. It isn’t very scary, although it can be quite tense in some sequences, and the plot is quite predicable; to some extent this only heightens your empathy for the family as you quickly realise their fate before they do. The effects are fairly standard, and as I’ve already said, those looking for something new in either genre won’t find it in ‘The Device’. That said, it’s an enjoyable movie, whose journey is more satisfying than its destination. ‘The Device’ is out March 23rd courtesy of Image Entertainment.