Bedeviled, from Abel and Burlee Vang, is basically an app-based version of The Ring or A Nightmare on Elm Street, in so much that a group of kids find themselves haunted and killed by a mysterious entity preying on those who download a smartphone app. That’s it.
Fuck this movie.
It’s bad enough that Bedeviled goes out of its way to be unoriginal–unspooky killer ghost, cursed kerjigger, boring recreation of the go-to opening of every stock slasher or monster movie ever. But it also has to be boring. It also has to mistake ambiguity with aimlessness. It mistakes bland use of light and shadow, weird noises, and loud, domineering music for mood and atmosphere. It mistakes nothing for something.
When did “context” become a bad word in filmmaking?
The opening sequence in this movie makes no sense. It’s just a sad girl staring at a wall while her mom tells her she’s fucking off with Dad for the evening. And then she just wanders about the house in the dark, creeped out by a whole lot of nothing, and then screams when she comes across an ugly version of one of those inflatable tube men you see at every grand re-opening ever. And then, she’s apparently dead?
Compare that shit to the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. That movie opens with Tina, this pretty girl in nothing but her pajamas, scared, confused, and running down a dirty, wet, weirdly lit hallway filled with steam and pipes and fuckin’ sheep. And then, she’s chased by something in the dark, some burned dude with claws whose rippin’ shit up and creepin’ her out real good. And then when he gets too close, attacks her, she screams and wakes up. Boom, it was all a dream. Except her pajamas are all carved up, so, no, it wasn’t exactly a dream.
Bedeviled, meanwhile, doesn’t explain a goddamn thing. Is this opening a dream? Why is she just sitting in the fuckin’ dark? Why do her parents let her sit in the fuckin’ dark? Why does she just sort of wander about her own house like she doesn’t know where a light switch is, or like she doesn’t know what all the little sounds are like? Why would she walk toward the giant evil inflatable tube man and scream instead of just running like hell out of that house? Cuz he just sort of stands there until she screams.
Why are so many writers and filmmakers involved in horror these days so eager to do nothing with the first ten minutes of their movie?
Something has to happen at the start of the movie. Not just a vague approximation of the point you’re trying to get across. If it’s about a killer app and the ghost that kills people who use it, then show us the goddamn app and how all this works. Establish the rules. Establish why we’re supposed to be worried for everyone we come across in the next 90 minutes. Tell a story. But don’t just have characters walk about doing nothing until the big scare happens. That’s boring. That’s lazy. That makes for shit movie after shit movie.
Also, Bedeviled is a shit movie. Probably. I don’t know. I stopped caring right after the word “Bedeviled” slowly appeared on a big black screen in big red letters with an equally big, slow “bong.”