Director: Jeremy Berg
Writers: Jeremy Berg & John Portanova
Starring: Angela DiMarco, David S. Hogan, Kate Alden, Gabriel Congdon
“I’m not scared of a whatever it is.”
Two sisters, Abby (DiMarco) and Rebecca (Alden) reunite after years apart to scatter their mother’s ashes at the family cabin. While there Rebecca and Abby come upon a “crash site”. Abby’s fiancée Calvin (Hogan) winds up toting home a mysterious sphere that seems to be of otherworldly origin. He comes under the sphere’s sway while his wife struggles with nightmares and Rebecca confronts her past.
The Device is a little bit of Dark Skies, sprinkled with Close Encounters of the Third Kind and mixed with every other UFO horror/scifi film. But mostly it takes after Dark Skies, with its brooding suburban setting, nose bleeds, and spooky dreams. The film get’s off to a good start with a great premise. Finding a mysterious device in the woods that changes people’s behavior should sound familiar. Tommyknockers anyone? Unfortunately there ends the comparison (to either the book or mini-series). What was hoped for, and vaguely promised by the film poster was a movie of Lovecraftian bodily horror as the device infects and warps the three main characters. At the very least I kept waiting for the sphere to sprout mechanical tentacles and go on a rampage.
Instead, not so much. The Device leaves the isolated woods for the Seattle suburbs, wanders around a little in domestic drama and family secrets, deviates for a small research trip to a doctor (normally my favorite scene in these kinds of movies, but underwhelming here) and then goes back to the cabin for a rendezvous with destiny. The early promise of the film and it’s good production value are frittered away once the film hits act two and chugs along to an inevitable conclusion seen many times before.
The Device looks great, moody and desaturated, the gloom seems to permeate everything lending menace to the suburban home where most of the movie takes place. The woods look amazing, and there are some glorious shots of trees. The soundtrack is off and on effective. Comprised mostly of alternating low and shrill notes, it borders on atonal at times and its effectively creepy most of the time. Other times it becomes an ear piercing irritation. The acting is all right but not great. The performances feel underplayed and Calvin is particularly monotonous, sounding basically the same no matter what he’s saying or what the situation calls for.
Oh! And there’s an alien! Which looks like most other aliens. Tall and skeletal with bug eyes and no clothes on. Why don’t advanced star-spanning civilizations ever go in for pants? The alien comes in early, appearing in Abby’s nightmares so there isn’t much of a surprise when you see more of the alien at the end. Bonus points; the writer/producer is John Portanova from Valley of the Sasquatch, who certainly loves his woodland settings and dysfunctional families. Berg and Portanova are both very talented, but despite that talent The Device crosses over into skip it or watch it for free territory.
Kudos for: Aunt Linda and her burning condescension.
Lesson Learned: Don’t take home strange spheres.