17th September 2018 (UK VOD Release)
Five friends are terrorized by a supernatural entity after downloading a mysterious app.
Abel Vang, Burlee Vang (as The Vang Brothers)
Saxon Sharbino, Bonnie Morgan, Alexis G. Zall
The speed that technology is advancing is scary enough, but in Bedeviled a new app is manifesting the fears of a group of teenagers into a terrifying reality, eventually scaring them to death. Moments before their demise, they are faced with a grinning, long fingered, bow-tie wearing demon – just in case the literal manifestation of their phobia doesn’t do the trick.
The workings of the app, called Mr BeDevil (get it?) start out suspicious enough: after installation and a cheerful voice greeting, it connects with your contacts, messages, social media streams and can even remotely control your lights on and off. But that’s nothing that you don’t already unwittingly agree to yourself when getting a new game for your phone by not reading the encyclopaedia-sized T&Cs that come with it. It’s only when the young adults start seeing maniacal clowns, walking mangled teddy bears and drowned zombie girls that they start to think something isn’t quite right.
Bedeviled is unashamedly familiar in its jolts. It has all the beats and tropes of countless horrors seen for decades. Maybe this acceptance of both its material and intended audience resulted in a slightly better end product, because despite its obvious flaws, it’s overall it’s actually rather entertaining. There’s no doubt you’ll jump, then instantly kick yourself for doing so for reacting to something you knew was going to happen – take the AR room scanning scene for example and you’ll know what I mean.
The teens are your typical brainless bunch, with the only cell between them the one in their hands. One instance really stands out as being especially moronic, as after the death of at least one of them that has been attributed to BeDevil’s presence on their phone, another individual with it installed decides it’s a wise idea to film an intimate video of themselves and their partner. Because “everyone’s doing it these days”, apparently.
The look of Mr BeDevil himself is a mash up of some already existing nightmare inhibitors. Add one part Joker, two parts of Ryuk from Japanese manga Death Note to an ounce of Slender Man. Finally, add in a dash of Pee Wee Herman for extra unease. He’s largely kept in the dark, with only hints of his appearance coming from the striking red bow tie, or the elongated fingers on humans – one scene in particular uses these freakishly long digits to great effect as Mr BeDeviled chases a helpless victim through a multi-storey car park. He’s an antagonist to be feared for sure, but unfortunately the scenes involving him are cut too short for him to be an unforgettable one.
And Bedeviled is loud. Obnoxiously so, I’d say. The crashes, bangs and orchestral crescendos are so overpowering that they don’t compliment the scare but detract from it. They end up being the horror equivalent of a laugh track to a syndicated sitcom. Ironically, the majority of the scares would work by themselves without the deafening cues alerting us to their arrival.
Disappointingly too, the film never explores the effects of technology reliance. The app seems to be just a gateway, in more ways than one, to introduce us to BeDeviled and the events, but behind the bloatware there’s a juicier story to be found here that’s never tapped in to.
It’s not like we can even enjoy the gruesome ends to these buffoons either – each death scene is a simple cut to black or linger on their screaming faces, with the next scene showing them being wheeled away in body bags. Surely a film about greatest fears being used against you should include some originality in the final moments of each character?
But no. Bedeviled owes a debt to dozens of existing properties for its existence. Especially Stephen King’s It and the recent remake, with one sequence brazenly plagiarising from Andy Muschetti’s work. The Ring, Child’s Play even Jordan Peele’s Get Out should also get royalty cheques in the mail. These similarities to other, more successful and admittedly superior movies, never get irritating though. In fact, I got a few laughs out of them for just how brazen they are and more often than not the scenes ended with a satisfactory albeit completely foreseeable jolt.
So yes, I can firmly recommend Bedeviled. It would be best enjoyed as a marathon of other completely disposable teen horrors made for those with the attention span that lasts for about the length of a game of Candy Crush.
Just don’t expect it to be worth reinstalling after one play through.
Bedeviled will be available to buy on all major VOD services in the UK including iTunes, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Rakuten and Sky from 17th September 2018.
Great, if underutilised, character in Mr BeDeviled
Scares are predictable but no less effective
Deafening and obnoxious score
No originality, or even depiction, of character demises