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Patience Is Necessary For “I Trapped The Devil”


Slow burn horror/thrillers require some very specific tools to proceed. Especially when the title is an independent one with limited money and time at its disposal, it’s easier thought of than executed. In the case of this week’s new release I Trapped the Devil, as novel concept ends up ever so slightly underwhelming. Something like this probably needed some stronger acting to keep you invested as the tension builds. Admittedly, the ending is solid, but not quite solid enough to make up for 70 or so minutes that’s come before it. This is far from a bad work, though I can’t bring myself to give it a full on recommendation.

The movie is a mix of horror and thriller, told with a vast amount of patience. Set during Christmas, this is a look at a family reunion of sorts gone very wrong. When Matt (AJ Bowen) and his wife Karen (Susan Burke) show up at the home of Matt’s estranged brother Steve (Scott Poythress) unannounced, they’d planned to just celebrate the holidays with him. Instead, they find something horrifying. Down in the basement, trapped in a small room, is a man. According to Steve, this is not just any man, but the devil himself. Matt and Karen think he’s nuts, but Steve is utterly convinced of this. Thus begins a back and forth where the trio have to figure out just what’s going on, especially as strange things are occurring. Josh Lobo writes and directs, with supporting players in the small cast consisting of Jocelin Donahue, John Marrott, Rowan Russell, and Scott Sullivan. Bryce Holden provides the cinematography, while the score is by Ben Lovett.

With a slightly tighter sense of pacing, I Trapped the Devil would have worked. The ingredients for an effective fright flick are here. It simply takes too long to come together. There’s a rough edge to the beginning, though the end of the first act isn’t bad. Then, it’s just way too little for the whole middle section, which is where the tension should be growing to unbearable levels. It’s happening, but not at an effective speed. The final shot at the end does provide a nice twisty jolt to leave on, but by then you’ll likely have moved past the point of investment in the story.

For what it’s worth, filmmaker Josh Lobo displays some interesting tools here. Lobo arguably is a better writer now than a director, though both show potential as well as room for improvement. Here with this flick, had he shown more in the middle, it might not have been as obvious. Still, there’s a grit to his direction, as well as a slightly quirky tone to his screenplay. As a starting point for a storyteller, one could do a lot worse. Lobo clearly has the goods. Even though this wasn’t fully the introduction to a strong new voice in horror, it’s a hint that we’ll be hearing and seeing more from him in short order.

This weekend, indie horror fans with patience may well find something intriguing with I Trapped the Devil. For yours truly, the movie isn’t paced enough to compel, but your mileage may vary. Lobo could easily turn into an exciting genre voice in short order, so for many of you, it could be a situation where you double back to find this after he’s made something higher profile in the years to come. Today though, the film can’t quite pull off what it’s attempting. You’ll never be bored, but you’ll often have the sense that more should be happening. Make of this what you will…


I Trapped the Devil is in theaters on Friday!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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