Release Date- 31st October 2011
Runtime – 100minutes
Director – Stuart St. Paul
Certificate – 12
Starring – Laura Fraser, Callum Blue, Luke Aikman, Tom Bell, Lynda Bellingham, Roger Ashton-Griffiths
Filmed on the Shetland Isles, Devil’s Gate is a disturbing thriller that tells the tale of Rachel (Laura Fraser) Crossman and the effects her childhood has had on her. She returns to the island she ran away from five years previously after her former boyfriend (Blue) tricks her into believing her father is dying. Whilst on the island, however, Rachel discovers something a lot worse, the truth about her family.
We first meet Rachel as she knocks on a front door asking for ‘Jane Crossman’ but when the woman who answers says that is her name, Rachel runs off into the darkness. We later learn that Jane is Rachel’s mother, whom she has been searching for for years and this is the key that drives the whole film. Once she has returned to her home island, Rachel decides to ask questions of the locals to see if she can learn anything more about her mother in order to find her. However, in asking these questions, Rachel finds that she cannot escape from her past and has to deal with the idea that her mother may not be who she thought she was.
Devil’s Gate is an interesting film, the title suggesting that it will most likely be horror based rather than just a thriller. The plot moves slowly, focusing on developing the characters but not doing it particularly well, as the viewer does not relate to or care about the protagonist or anyone integral to the story. Also featured is Eagle (Ashton-Griffiths), a character who is never explained and who never speaks. A large man in a fur coat, sometimes sinister and at other times a guardian to the protagonist, he lurks round corners and peers through gaps in the roof, spying on the every movement of those within but really only working as a plot device to save them from danger when it is clear nothing else could.
There is very little back story as to why Rachel is so desperate to find her mother, until the twist at the end of the film and although this keeps the film as a whole more interesting, it does not really set you up to care about or understand Rachel’s quest for the majority of the film. The plot throws each one of the main characters under suspicion, particularly Rafe and Rachel, whom director, Stuart St. Paul, suggests are suffering from mental delusions: Rachel obsessing about her mother and perhaps hallucinating that someone is after her, meanwhile Rafe is obsessing over her, recreating a shrine of her childhood bedroom within his own house which he insists on showing her. When Matt (Aikman), a young man from the city, arrives on the island to attend a local festival, he immediately takes an interest in Rachel, much to her Rafe’s disdain. Whilst the acting in the film is good, Rachel’s continuous bad mood, moaning and constant assertion that she ‘deserves to know’ everything and anything, is incredibly grating. Also the festival that Matt refers to, when it eventually does happen, is the least festive festival known to man and resembles a cult gathering more than anything else.
Devil’s Gate is a dramatic movie, full of twists and turns which touches on the effects of abuse and traumatic events. The soundtrack is a contrasting mix of heavy rock music against idyllic scenes of the countryside. The DVD extras include the deleted scenes, trailer and a making of documentary, exploring the films location and what the actors thought of the scripting and plot of Devil’s Gate.
Devil’s Gate is out on DVD on October 31st – order it here