The Devil’s Business

db2

Written and Directed by Sean Hogan
Starring Billy Clarke, Jack Gordon, Jonathan Hansler, Harry Miller and Mark Sealy

Two hit men are sent to do an assassination, for their boss Bruno. Pinner (Billy Clarke) is an experienced gun for hire and he is provided assistance by the young, inexperienced and skittish Cully (Jack Gordon). They arrive at the house of their target and settle in for Kist (Jonathan Hansler) to return from the Opera so they can murder him and go home.

Cully is nervous and asks Pinner to tell him about the strangest thing he’s seen doing this job, and a reluctant Pinner tells him a ghost story about a young striptease dancer he had to murder when he was still a novice. To Pinner she was beautiful, the death is portrayed as tragic, and his accomplice on that job swears he sees her on stage at the club for months after the death.

Suddenly a strike at the window draws the pair to the shed where they find that their target has a satanic shrine, complete with murdered baby. Shaken but determined to get on with the job they return to the house, where Pinner encounters Kist who has returned early from the Opera. Pinner executes Kist and it seems like the job is over.

devilbusiness3big
“You’ve got red on you.”

As the pair leave, Cully remembers that he has left his watch in the bathroom and the two of them head back inside the house – to find that Kist’s body has disappeared. They prepare to search the premises for the person they assume must be in the building somewhere.

Pinner heads outside to call Bruno and explain that there’s been a complication and Cully is completely thrown when a small red ball comes down the staircase. Clearly paranoid and losing his nerve, he accidentally shoots Pinner as he re-enters the house.

A wounded Pinner finishes the ghost story that he was telling Cully earlier, while he binds his wounds, and Cully nurses the bloody nose Pinner gave him for shooting him in the shoulder.

Searching the house Cully finally loses it and demands to go home, Pinner though reluctant agrees, but as they are leaving, Cully is trapped in a room by supernatural means and killed off camera. Pinner finally enters the room to find his bloody remains all over the black altar they discovered earlier.

Pinner wanders aimlessly, and in a state of shock until he finally comes face to face once more with Kist, who has the wounds of a man shot in the back of the head, but apparently hasn’t decided that was going to stop him enjoying his evening. He explains to a shell-shocked Pinner that he has an unusual line of work, and also tidies up the end of Pinner’s ghost story, when he gets Pinner to reveal that he was the lover of the murdered striptease girl.

Pinner goes to head home, drained by the whole experience, but decides to finish the job, heading back into the house one more time. He uncovers a secret basement/wine cellar and in it, a child. He shouts to Kist to tell him that the jig is up, and that he now holds his child hostage, but the child – clearly a supernatural creation turns and rips out Pinner’s throat.

Kist comes down to the basement, takes Pinners phone and kills Bruno with some form of incantation.

What’s wrong with it?

The film tries hard to wrap a ghost story within a horror thriller, and relies on the interaction between the three main characters conversations.

However, the dialogue is incredibly tiresome, fifty words are often used when ten would suffice, and the same point is made over and over again with a little rewording.

As the characters fall one by one, we’re supposed to be drawn into the moral ambiguity of their world, but we’re left without a reason to relate to these characters – we are never drawn into their world.

There is one point in the film, where Billy Clarke delivers a fifteen minute, laboured monologue, in a flat monotone and a complete lack of facial expression. If you took a still from it, it would look great, he looks like a man haunted by his past, but after a few minutes the attention wanders and you end up struggling to understand what the point of the story he is telling is.

And then after an hour of not showing us the monster, the ending falls entirely flat, when the homonculus appears, and Kist uses an incantation to kill Bruno. All mystery is dispelled and instead we’re left with an unsatisfactory ending.

What’s right with it?

The story is fine, and the acting is reasonable given the script.

The overall structure of the film really works in its favour, and its a nice micro-budget horror flick – if you can get past it’s flaws.

As a thirty minute film it would have been tight and snappy.

How bad is it really?

It’s not bad, in so much as it is tediously boring, for a film that should be keeping you on the edge of your seat, I found myself looking for my phone after the third time we returned to the ghost story.

Best bit (if such there is)?

We finally get a sense of the sort of man that Pinner is when after being shot, he calmly walks over and nuts Cully in the face breaking his nose. The best moment in the film by far.

What’s up with…? 

  • The gloves. Cully’s character clearly comes in with the intention of leaving no evidence and then proceeds to haphazardly touch, drink-from, or otherwise leave evidence all over the house.

Ratings

Production values – It’s a small set, with a small budget. There’s not a lot to discuss here, the supernatural gubbins could have been kit-bashed in a garage in an afternoon, but with the exception maybe of the homonculus makeup job there’s nothing either good or bad about it. 17
Dialogue and performances – Oh my god, show don’t tell, and tell us waaaaay less. 20
Plot and execution – The plot is fine, but the execution is very poor, as I said previously, my conviction is that this would have made a good 25 minute film, at seventy minutes it was like sitting in the dentists chair at times. 16
Randomness – This film doesn’t really suffer from parts which don’t add up, rather a lack of focus, I think we found out five times in three minutes what Cully’s character really wanted 11
Waste of potential – This film needed a really good and a really harsh editor, it also needed to be a short movie, or we needed Pinner’s ghost story to be shown and not told 8

Overall 72%

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