Thursday, March 19, 2015


If it’s Thursday, it must be time to take a deep breath, pull the drawstring and face the Fear of the Velvet Curtain once again. And this week there’s a real reason to be afraid.

 If you missed it during its very brief theatrical run (and thanks to IFC’s, shall we say, not aggressive advertising campaign, most of you did), this week is dedicated to a heads-up about Nicholas McCarthy’s follow-up to his impressive debut The Pact (2012). It’s called At the Devils Door (2014), and after having seen it now twice, I think it’s even more impressive, and certainly more daring, than the previous movie.

Full disclosure: McCarthy has been a friend for several years—we met when Richard Harland Smith gathered us together, along with Paul Gaita, Jeff Allard and Greg Ferrara, to form the Horror Dads collective
 over at TCM’s Movie Morlocks. And despite that friendship, when I first saw the movie I confess I was one of those less-than-satisfied folks I describe in my FVC review who was confused by the fact that the horrors weren’t arriving on a more predictable schedule, in a familiar fashion. But the movie never left my head, and when I returned to it—on my big-screen TV, not usually the best venue for experiencing this kind of film—I couldn’t remember why I had issues with its pace. What once seemed well-crafted but slightly slack in spots now seemed taut, smartly referenced and imagined:
“McCarthy’s strategy is to build the movie almost entirely on a foundation of pulsating dread, on the energy generated by the anticipation of horrors to come. At the Devil’s Door tempts viewers who may think they want only on-schedule gore and shocks with the prospect of using camera movement and sound and light (or the lack thereof) to tantalize that audience and lead it toward understanding and exploiting the more genuine fear generated by the imagination. The movie’s original title, Home, evokes a sense of the uneasy spirits (including the three main characters) seeking their ultimate refuge, as played out in images and settings evoking the economic discontent of bland suburban settings that McCarthy and his cinematographer Bridger Nielsen, as they did in The Pact, make palpably unsettling. But it also conveys, with a masterfully contagious confidence, the fearful pleasures of standing at the devil’s door, imagining what horrors might lie in wait on the other side and being unable to resist turning the knob and walking on through.”

No spoilers here. Just lots of appreciation for the fine movie McCarthy has made, which you should catch—it’s on Netflix Streaming, iTunes and other VOD services—as soon as you can.

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