Dir. Greg Olliver
Starring – Marta Milans, Kara Jackson, Bruno Gunn, Tyler Hollinger.
Released UK – 16th September 2013
UK release Matchbox Films .
Lourdes (Marta Milans) is a single mother who has left her son with her Mother in Mexico and travelled to New York to work. She needs to earn as much money as possible to send home as her son is ill and needs an operation.
So Lourdes works at a high-class restaurant through the night where she cleans and prepares it for the next day. She earns minimum wage and the only thing that keeps her going is her son with whom she speaks to every night.
Lourdes has to deal with the harsh, uncaring modern New York where poverty sits hand in hand with decadence. Her employer Kristen (Kara Jackson) is a bitch. She sleeps with the chef, bullies Lourdes continually and drinks a lot of red wine!
The chef Billy (Tyler Hollinger) is a seemingly threatening sexual predator who Lourdes has to keep at arm’s length as her boss Kristen threatened to “cut off her hands and feed them to her” if she ever touched Billy.
Lourdes does have some comfort in a chance meeting (well bumping into) with local fireman Frankie (Bruno Gunn) who is friendly and a shoulder to cry on.
So that is Lourdes world, a struggle for everyday survival in a foreign and strange city. BUT Lourdes is also seemingly having a mental breakdown due to the pressure of her situation.
She is seen talking to a friend at the bar of the restaurant whilst the CCTV image shows her alone, she also continues to see a dark , silhouetted figure of a man in the restaurant. And she continues to have flashbacks of happier times with her son Oliver, and everywhere seems to reminds her of him.
As the film progresses Lourdes seems to be slipping further towards a full breakdown, but Lourdes believes there could be a supernatural elements at play here.
So Lourdes must try to get as much money as possible back to her son so he can get his much-needed operation.
Devoured is just a joy. It is a very slow-paced psychological thriller, with some wonderful horror and supernatural elements. It draws you in from the start and keeps you on the edge of your seat with a gentle increase in tension minute by minute.
Marta Milans is just wonderful as Lourdes , she is almost silent for the first half of the film apart from the odd conversation with her son & mother on the phone. Every minute of her performance is utterly convincing and at the moment THE stand-out performance of 2013 by a male or female lead (in this humble reviewers opinion) .
Her gradual descent into madness is compelling yet heartbreaking, this is a woman leading a back-breaking existence to send home her meagre wages to save her son’s life whilst having to work in an environment where people pay hundreds of dollars just for a meal!!
Director Greg Olliver is mainly known for his documentary work , which includes the great film Lemmy (the legendary Motorhead frontman). But with Devoured he shows that he is ready and very able to work in full length features and his touch and vision is very well suited to this type of psychological horror.
As Lourdes is silent through a lot of the film then the background noise becomes almost the foreground noise. The sounds of the railway and the traffic noise in the background gives a feeling of almost isolation and solitude yet in a city of millions.
The soundtrack is very understated with light piano just to add to the melancholy of Lourdes daily routine and her sad existence in a small, bare room with no soul or even sign of life.
A couple of things that I really enjoyed were the use of the CCTV in the restaurant, which seemed to show what was *really* happening rather than what Lourdes was thinking was happening and secondly the use of very small brief scenes. Throughout Devoured I think there were only about 3 scenes that lasted more than 2 minutes, it was just a quick scene followed by another but these were all beautifully linked together and a feeling of continuity was apparent throughout, with each scene and set exquisitely arranged and filmed. Everything on film is their for a reason and perfect down to the most minute detail.
Finally there are a few twists and turns along the way that lead to a great ending, I saw these coming a long way off but this in no way took anything away from the film itself. In fact it is nice sometimes when the pay-off at the end actually works and the viewer is not left thinking “What the hell?”.
Devoured has some genuinely frightening moments and a drip-drip of constant dread and fear. A beautiful film that shocks, scares and may just break your heart.
A quite shocking and often disturbing film that shows poverty and decadence can live quite unhappily together in modern times!
About Andy Deen
A horror fan for as far back as I can remember . The first things that scared me were Doctor Who and the BBC ghost stories . As an early teen the video revolution came along and with it the Video Nasty campaign , and through all that I immersed myself in all things nasty. I love Slashers, Haunted House Stories and Devil Worshipping/Panic Films . I watch too much horror , listen to loud Heavy Metal and enjoy the odd tattoo \m/\m/