For his third film as director, J.D. Dillard adapts the 2017 biography Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice by author Adam Makos. The film shortens the title to Devotion and introduces audiences to the comradeship between naval officers Jesse Brown (Jonathan Majors) and Tom Hudner (Glen Powell) during the Korean War.
No chills or thrills in the mundane Devil’s Workshop
Director Chris von Hoffman delves into the horror genre for his sophomore feature, Devil’s Workshop from Lionsgate. Struggling actor Clayton (Timothy Granaderos) is desperate for a role as a demonologist. He contacts Eliza (Radha Mitchell), an expert in devil lore, to help him prepare and spends the weekend at her home. Eliza forces Clayton to confront his troubling past, perform dark rituals, and sacrifice a goat. Does she want to help Clayton, seduce him, or destroy him?
Ever since The Exorcist broke box office records in 1973, Hollywood has tried to duplicate its success with films involving the devil. Horror fans will attest that sometimes the results are promising and sometimes flat-out atrocious. A decade later, I still remember the collective boos that the audience bestowed upon The Devil Inside at my preview screening.
To no surprise, Devil’s Workshop falls into the same category. Despite the familiarity in the plot, Chris von Hoffman showed some promise in his debut feature, 2018’s Monster Party. Seeing him fall into the sophomore slump with Devil’s Workshop was sad. For starters, Timothy Granaderos wasn’t credible as our male lead. Granaderos is Primarily known for his work on the hit Netflix series 13 Reasons Why as Monty De La Cruz.
On that show, he portrayed a closeted bully, so perhaps that is why I couldn’t take him seriously as a protagonist. Emile Hirsch favors better as a toxic acting rival to Clayton, and I would have much rather seen the film focus on him. At the same time, Radha Mitchell is wasted in the film and must have some bills to pay because she looks bored in the movie. I also wasn’t fond of the special effects or the film’s so-called twist.
Devil’s Workshop tries to capture the genre’s essence without succeeding as a demonic horror film. The plot, as well as the performers, are not credible at any point in time over the short run time. The film is a collection of weak, isolated moments of horror that will most likely impress the most clueless audience members, but it won’t impress anyone else. As the film continues, a lack of suspenseful pace leads to Devil’s Workshop becoming a cloud of tired cliches.
Final Grade: F
Devil’s Workshop hits Select Theaters, On Digital, and On Demand Friday, September 30th
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