Picture this, it’s the holidays and you decide to visit your long-lost brother, but he happens to be more unhinged than you remembered, believing that he has captured and is holding hostage, the devil itself. This is the concept for Josh Lobo’s accomplished debut feature film, I Trapped the Devil.
Starring a strong ensemble cast comprising of Scott Poythress, AJ Bowen and Susan Burke, I Trapped the Devil is a chilling exercise in pure heightened tension that grips the viewer from its opening moments right up until the closing credits. With a run time of 80 minutes, I Trapped the Devil crafts a gradual pace, building tension before reaching a satisfying close. Not a moment feels wasted nor does it drag or outstay its welcome.
Scott Poythress is a revelation as Steve, a man who has just exposed his most sinister secret to his nearest and dearest. He lives in his own existential hell and the film continually teases the prospect of Steve’s discovery being very much real or could it merely be a figment of his imagination?
AJ Bowen compliments Poythress’s performance as the rational brother who is torn by what he has uncovered. There’s a complex dynamic played out between the two, with Bowen’s character Matt seemingly sceptical about his brother’s discovery while there’s the idea that it could all be tangible niggling in the back of his mind. Burke balances out the dynamic as Matt’s supportive partner, Karen. While initially trying to encourage a reunion between the brothers, she soon realises she has stepped into an unwanted and dangerous situation. These performances are the films strongest asset with the actors bringing an essence of authenticity and believability to their roles.
Lobo’s evokes a 1970’s style aesthetic on the visual front in terms of the creaky house setting and the use of deep red lighting to signify the presence of evil. The lighting intensifies the feeling of dread and enigma each time the core characters venture down into the basement. The title credits indicate the 70’s horror inspiration with the bold lettering abruptly appearing on screen accompanied by a classic strings score composed by Ben Lovett. Lovett’s score conjures a sombre and eerie mood increasing the overall creepiness of the film.
As well as having directed the feature, Lobo’s wrote the script and edited the piece which is no easy feat, however taking full creative control in those areas has ensured that the film flows well and remains consistent in its tone.
I Trapped the Devil is a powerful, psychological mystery that proves this style of horror can be effective without resorting to elaborate special effects to elicit the notion of something ominous materializing.
I Trapped the Devil expertly shakes up the audience with a bone chilling ending that will linger in the mind long after viewing. For lifelong, desensitised horror fans it takes a great deal to provoke and unnerve, therefore Lobo’s has done a stellar job through creating a film that manages to get under the skin in this way while taking a subtle approach.
I Trapped the Devil is not to be missed at this year’s Arrow Video Frightfest, screening on Saturday the 24th August at the iconic Prince Charles Cinema on Discovery Screen 2. Signature Entertainment presents I Trapped the Devil on Digital HD 21st October 2019