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Keeping up with the times, movies have shifted bullying from dropping a pail of pig’s blood on the prom queen’s head to globally terrorizing them on the internet. Covered in all genres with varying themes and outcomes, the impact of being a target is universal. It’s bad. Very, very bad.
With Devil’s Domain, the victim is a high schooler named Lisa (Madi Vodane) who is not that popular to begin with. She is harassed by every single student at every single opportunity on every single day. But when she misinterprets her best friend’s affection as a come on for a relationship, she is further targeted by a school full of world-class horrific bullies. She is then prompted by a mysterious note passed to her in class written in blood asking if she wishes they were all dead. She checks ‘yes’ and a strange string of deaths follow, most especially after Lisa meets a beautiful young women named Destiny (Linda Bella), who is of course the actual Devil and has taken to ripping up her tormentors with proper gruesome hack and slasher fervor.
Written and directed by Jared Cohn, whose recent Death Pool is a step better, Devil’s Domain is a cheaply-made horror film that takes a truly disturbing phenomenon in modern culture and builds a gross-out horror film around it, giving the premise neither the proper weight nor attention it deserves, somehow making it seem that the best way to deal with bullies is to set them on fire. While Cohn apparently wants to make a message about the problem, among other things, including gender rights, the attempt is lost in the execution that panders more to the gore and violence than the actual trauma of the bullying. That’s the intent though and anyone looking for something more has come to the wrong film.
So getting past the failures of the movie to properly handle very real issues, the movie is itself a twisted affair with a solid performance from Vodane who delivers real angst and at least keeps the story compelling as she is really a victim of two sides, both the bullies in school and the Devil herself. That right there could have made this far better if it were more deeply explored. Michael Madsen shows up as her stepdad and does little but croak out his perfuctory lines, barely condemning what’s happening to his step-daughter. Bella convinces though, but is, as nearly everything is, exploited throughout.
That’s the real issue behind this low-budget blood porn chiller, the creepy voyeuristic eye Cohn squeezes out of his camera. While we are meant to be gaining sympathy for Lisa, he instead pans over her underwear-clad body with a salacious ooze that doesn’t fit the tone. With a hefty raft of tropes and clichés, the film, despite its themes, is a shallow experience that may satisfy softcore sex (there is no nudity) and horror fans but others beware, while it might look to have appeal, this is a missed opportunity that is only about the surface and nothing about the depth.
Movie description: Devil's Domain is a 2017 horror film about a young woman who makes a deal with the devil to seek revenge against her online cyber bullies.
Director(s): Jared Cohn
Actor(s): Michael Madsen, Madi Vodane, Linda Bella