Devonsville Terror, The | Varied Celluloid

Devonsville Terror, The

Posted by Josh Samford On August - 8 - 2008
Originally written by Prof. Aglaophotis


Plot Outline: During the Salem Witch Trials, the small Midwestern town of Devonsville harbored the three grueling murders of three supposed witches. However, after the vicious pilgrims of Devonsville burned an actual witch to the stake, the witch cursed the village after her death. Three centuries later, a fellow by the name of Walter Gibbs murders his nagging wife in an angry response to her annoyance, only to be confronted with a voice from the past…the voice of the third witch, cursing the town. A day later, the new Elementary school teacher arrives into current day Devonsville named Jenny who is always one to enlighten her students and others of her knowledge, only to eventually receive ubiquitous remarks behind her back for her ‘evil’ ways, initiated with the help of Walter’s relatives. On top of that, two more women arrive in town with similar ways and morals that they care to express which contradict the opinions of the people of current day Devonsville. As the local physician begins to scrutinize Jenny in order to juxtapose the town folk’s claims, a few delinquents have begun stalking the other women in hopes of starting a little ‘witch hunt’ of their own. What will become of the innocent Jenny? Will she and the other women become victims of the past coming back to haunt the present?


The Review
After seeing The Devonsville Terror all the way through, it is safe for me to say that despite the movie’s occasionally noticeable faults and blasé style, the impression of its message runs deep in me. I have always felt ambivalent about knowing that we can never change what has already happened in the past of our relatives. On one side, I’ve always thought that no one in the present should suffer (physically and emotionally) because of the mounting past mistakes that our ancestors may have caused. But on the other side, I feel hopeful knowing of these past faults so that I and the people in my life can look upward and learn to live with the past that may effect our present; the past is the past and there is no point in changing or repeating it. This is something that The Devonsville Terror certainly has going for it, but I might as well get to the basics.

The cinematography certainly could have been better on most parts as camera angles for various important events in the film such as the introduction of a new character or a past witch hunt were presented at blasé angles and minimal creativity. Even the special effects weren’t all too much to brag about, seeing how one almost inebriated flash back revealed a woman with ‘mystic’ glowing yellow hair that just looked like a patch of dyed yellow hair that was almost the equivalent of magic marker effects with a watery exposure to it and the lightning bolts struck with too many pretentious designs to them. The later special effects involving the Raiders of the Lost Arc inspiration just looked a little too silly for the event; though it led to one of the best on-screen head explosions I’ve ever seen! Oddly enough, one of the greatest effects in the film is when our protagonist is having a nightmare involving a well crafted, vicious, growling demon face (almost vicious in a cute way), and a band of angry spitting pilgrims, the faces of the scene are later shown in a kaleidoscopic effect in the character’s vision. The lighting was pretty good as most night time shots weren’t always obscure and some torch lighting scenes emitted a slightly raw feeling to the events on screen. Although it doesn’t stand out too well on most occasions in the film, the soundtrack did produce a few nice synthesizer notes, most memorably for the main score in the film that was strong in its deliverance, which consisted of an almost imperious mix of sinister keys, yet sad, funeral like tones, composed by Ray Colcord… I really miss the horror movie soundtracks of old, because the original composition always rang true to the genre, and Devonsville really proves so. There did seem to be a problem with continuity as there were scenes in which the jump cuts immediately told the viewer/s what could’ve been done with actual character introductions and acting talent. For instance, when Jenny first meets up with the other two suspicious ladies, we quickly see them paddling around the lake together in a cycle-boat and the later exposition of the men spying on them fills in the details of their sudden friendship. Even the relationship between Jenny and the crazy supporting character Matthew seems rather succinct as we only see them converse three times, yet the three times we see them talk is rather conclusive that they understand each other to a certain extent.

The acting throughout most of the movie ran in very minimal leads, leaving some of the more known actors to steal the show in their own minimal ways. From this however is the simple fact that talent less, one time actors in low budget movies really do get the chance to steal the show in their own ways, often bringing realism to the screen and that’s exactly what some of the one time actors do in the Devonsville Terror. The perfect example of this is Aaron, chunky, arrogant, white trash character. When he yells at his daughter and wife about Jenny’s sprouting of occasional knowledge, you really get this feeling about the character that reflects a nerving sense of mind stinging arrogance that makes you realize ‘he’s so annoyingly believable!’ Even when he confronts the out-of-town nature enthusiast in perhaps the creepiest way ever using his rural accent made me cringe with the jibblies! Speaking of dumpy characters, I was surprised to see that there was some brief but well thought depth to the character Walter as his feelings of self worth are brought out in almost thought provoking scene where he tries to woo Jenny with his violin talents, looking back on how and (partially) why he murdered his wife. If anything else works with The Devonsville Terror, it’s the use of brutality; I’ll admit that it’s exploitive, but it doesn’t push any thing else in the line of emotion provocation, aside from just mostly female characters being killed in different ways for unanimously terrible reasons. The main problem with this is that some of the content worked against the brutality as we saw one squirming screaming victim as she’s being mauled by pigs and then we cut to a close up of one of her legs being gnawed on as it’s lying perfectly still. Even the most creative kill scene by flaming wheel was too fake looking for us not to notice the technical problem of getting a night gown and wig getting crushed by a rolling wheel on fire as opposed to strapping a dummy made to resemble the actress to the wheel.

The Conclusion
Regarding my previously mentioned thesis, The Devonsville Terror seems to have a nicely layered moral behind it’s use of mundane dialogue and partially understandable revenge motif the setting is portrayed in a sprawled out dreary rural town that just dares people from the cities or more urban towns to come and visit without taking individual opinions and views out of proportion which appropriately teaches us the value of learning about the past so as not to repeat the murder of someone who is just as human as you are. Still, I can see how some people disregard the movie with the shrug of a shoulder, especially seeing how there were only two really creepy/effective scenes in the film and certain technical difficulties really gleam throughout (especially the beginning and ending of a page from Dr. Warley’s journal… oh yeah that REALLY sounds like Donald Pleasance). Yet, I was able to find something to like about the movie between a meaningful moral and the always welcomed layer of violence (though I did wish the gender body count was evened out, just to partially eliminate one of the stereotypes involved). If you like complex witch hunt related vengeance flicks, this isn’t a bad choice, but don’t try to expect too much… Maybe the viewing experience would be best felt on a pizza and root beer night if you’re skeptical.



You might also be interested in:

VIDEO

TAGS

Sponsors

About Me

Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

Twitter

    Photos