Directors: Abel Vang, Burlee Vang
Cast: Saxon Sharbino, Bonnie Morgan, Brandon Soo Hoo, Jordan Essoe
Bedeviled is a bizarre story about an evil app that somehow perfectly channels (intentionally or otherwise) B horror films of the 80s, and, in that vein, is more entertaining than it has any right to be.
The story begins, like so many before, with the mysterious death of a teenage girl. Her group of close friends try to cope with her death, but it’s a struggle. Alice, her best friend, is having an particularly hard time. It just doesn’t seem like her friend should be gone (probably because she died in an odd fashion and everyone else is ignoring it for the sake of laziness).
It’s not long after (like, seriously, maybe a day) that each member of the squad is invited to download a new app. Only problem is that the invitation was sent from their dead friend’s phone. (Dun dun dah!) Not to worry! Male friend #1 dispels any supernatural fears by alerting the group that it’s TOTALLY NORMAL because she must have invited them to download the app before she died. At this point though, I’m just wondering why none of them seem weirded out by the idea of “app invites” in general. Is that a thing? Am I just too old? Don’t answer.
So they all download it cause YOLO, right?
The app seems cool at first. The darkened silhouette of a man fills the phone screen while a red bow tie flashes when the app responds. Or should I say talks. This app makes Siri sound like a Dalak and is so fast with information it could make Cortana spontaneously update.
But don’t worry, these kids are young so they don’t even blink at the app’s OVERTLY SUSPICIOUS “features,” like the ability to turn the lights off in their house. Hey dingbats, those light bulbs aren’t connected to the WiFi!
But I digress. The real problem with kids today is that they have no concept of privacy. Data capture is a bitch, and it’s only a matter of time before this squad goals set figures that out.
See this motivationless monster is using their data to determine their fears because shit is evil.
Tension mounts as members of the group are taunted and terrorized by this devilish app. In one particularly memorable sequence Boyfriend of Dead Girl is chased through a parking structure by the manifestation of the app. The slowly encroaching monster is truly spooky as it descends the stairs toward our protagonist (no sarcasm; the effects are great, but more on that in a minute). Boyfriend runs, barely escaping his pursuer. As he leaves the parking structure, a harmless hobo startles Boyfriend. Boyfriend reacts by punching the hobo in the face.
This bizarre choice is made all the more hilarious when the next scene begins with a shot of Boyfriend’s bandaged hand from his harrowing run-in with the harmless man. Let that sink in for a second. His only injury is from him punching an innocent man.
From there things go about the way you would expect. The teens get picked off one-by-one until only two are left. Through a lot of shaky tech talk they decide to trap the evil creature through . . . science? I’m not really sure. The resulting trap looks a lot like the finale of It Follows if it had taken place in a nondescript warehouse. There is screaming. There is praying. There is uncomfortable (and unfounded) victory dancing.
The interesting thing about Bedeviled is that it’s shockingly entertaining even in its unevenness. On one hand, the acting is stilted and the story is as shallow as it could possibly be. But on the other hand, the cinematography and special effects are really quite good.
This results in something really interesting. The film takes on the very distinct feeling of a 70s/80s film. I’m not talking about the The Hills Have Eyes and the Halloween’s of the world, but I am talking about the The Blobsand the Killer Klowns.
The latter are movies that don’t (or can’t due to resources) take themselves too seriously, but are surprisingly effective thanks to spooky visuals that stick with you long after the film. Bedeviled fits into this category. Aside from a wonderfully goofy final sequence, all of the monster’s effects seem to be practical.
Instead of overdoing it with millions of squiggling tentacles and the over-played tooth-filled vagina mouth, this monster actually evokes some goosebumps through minimal-but-strategic choices like elongated hands and good lighting that plays tricks with the eyes.
Bedeviled isn’t a timeless classic, but it uses them as source material to create something enjoyable from beginning to end.