Don’t Let the Devil In (2016)

Newlyweds John and Samantha’s (Marc Slanger and Jordan Lewis) marriage is already crumbling after an abortion. John’s boss offers to relocate him to a small town in Maryland in hopes to heal and to oversee the development of a casino. But the small town they move to aren’t happy that he’s there and set something sinister in motion.  Don’t Let the Devil In was written and directed by Courtney Fathom Sell.

Don’t Let the Devil In tries to be reminiscent of films like The Wicker Man and Rosemary’s Baby but unfortunately falls short of this accomplishment. That is due in large part to the story of the film and the acting.  The acting leaves a lot to be desired. The dialogue comes off as if the actors are reading their lines from a cue card. There’s absolutely no emoting going on. The story is supposedly about dealing with “everyday evils” such as smoking and drinking but this is only apparent because of a single line of stuffed in exposition.  John is a secret alcoholic but his drinking is portrayed as mechanism of coping with the loss of his unborn child rather than a crippling addiction that is ruining his life. He also suffers from PTSD but from what is never explained.

This film is definitely a slow burner that attempts to tap into the psychological horror realm but in the end, there’s no pay off. The film feebly grasps your attention with the question to why everyone in the small town are beyond hostile towards John and his wife and know so much about him; “news travels fast in a small town” is repeated multiple times. But once you find out why, the few ropes of intrigue it held disintegrate.

One positive about the film is part of the cinematography and score. Some of the overhead shots were beautiful and the reoccurring shot of the town at night in the distance is really creepy and the music is ambient and atmospheric.  But there’s a lot that needed to be tightened up in the film. Several more drafts of the script and a bigger budget would’ve helped immensely (Don’t Let the Devil In budget was only $30,000). This movie is boring but shows promise for the future of Courtney Fathom Sell. It’s apparent he is a fan of horror and with better technology and more practice Courtney is going to leave a mark in the genre.