Well, Elliott reviewed the film for the site's last update, but since then SGM were fortunate enough to be sent a copy of the US blu-ray for review. So, I'll try and do this justice too...
Lisa (Madi Vodane) is a socially awkward teen going through some tough times. She's secretly suffering from bulimia, feels alienated from well-intended father Bill (Michael Madsen), and has just made a horrible faux pas by misreading the affection of best pal Rhonda (Brenna Tucker) as being mutual sexual desire.
This latter act results in widespread scorn at high school. Little surprise, then, that when a crumpled piece of paper lands on her desk in lesson, asking her in scrawled lipstick writing whether she'd like to see all of her classmates die, she ticks the box marked "Yes".
But, before that promise is fulfilled, things are about to get even worse for poor Lisa. Boy next door and supposed lifelong friend Andrew (Zack Kozlow) pays her a visit one evening, working on the pretence that he's checking in on her. What he's really doing is installing two miniature hidden cameras - one in her bedroom, the other in her en suite bathroom.
Later that evening, the whole college watch on their individual smartphones as Lisa binge-eats, vomits and even masturbates on camera. Of course, she's tortured upon her return to school. So much so, that she even attempts suicide.
Enter hot blonde Destiny (Linda Bella), who contacts Lisa via social media with the promise of comfort and understanding. More than that, Destiny - who is clearly interested in Lisa sexually - hints at being able to get back at those who are making Lisa's life so hellish. With little reservation, Lisa meets up with Destiny - a date with destiny, indeed - and a Faustian deal is made which will see a lot of blood being spilt...
Writer-director Jared Cohn's DEVIL'S DOMAIN is an interesting prospect. It starts off with seemingly sincere intentions: thorny prescient issues such as cyber-bullying, homophobia, eating disorders and image issues are crowbarred into the film's first act with an almost self-righteous fervour. But then Lisa meets Destiny and the tone shifts dramatically into that of a gory revenge flick punctuated by slick slasher-esque set-pieces and one-liners from Destiny such "God is a very nice guy, but he has nothing to do with this", and "you just became best friends with the most badass bitch in the universe. So, how does that feel?"
I spotted (intentional?) nods to the likes of BLOODY PIT OF HORROR, CARRIE, FAUST and A PERFECT CHILD OF SATAN along the way. The simplistic plot is very familiar and clearly the aforementioned themes (bullying, bulimia etc) are only there to give an old yarn a modern relevance.
But, somehow, it all worked for me. The film moved along at a fair pace, delivered on its promise of stylised gore and exploitation, and had a welcomingly warm aesthetic throughout. It's admittedly hard to avoid the fact, however, that it ditches the weighty subject matter about a third of the way into proceedings, which is fairly irresponsible...
Performances are adequate. It's nice to Madsen in a genre role, even if he is underused. Bella and Vodane carry proceedings for the most part. Production design, specifically during the more nightmarish sequences shot in an S&M club in New York, are actually really inventive. There's a lot going on. The FX work is of the practical variety and includes chain saw violence, stabbings, burnings and death by demonically possessed landline 'phone. Seriously.
Oh, then there's the music which punctuates the film. Look out for the likes of Iggy & the Stooges, Onyx and Gary Numan on the film's eclectic soundtrack...
DEVIL'S DOMAIN comes to region-free blu-ray courtesy of Cleopatra Records, who have a US distribution deal through MVD Visual Entertainment.
The film is presented uncut (91 minutes and 32 seconds) and as an MPEG4-AVC file, proffering its transfer in full 1080p HD resolution.
Filmed on HD cameras, this 16x9 picture is, of course, crisp and colourful, warm and true. It looks great. Colour-correction and night-for-day shots ensure the movie retains a filmic look for the most part; I have no qualms regarding this sharp, vivid presentation.
English audio gets the 5.1 surround treatment and is a well-rounded, consistent affair.
The disc opens to an animated main menu page. From there, a scene selection option allows access to the film via 15 chapters.
Extras begin with an audio commentary track from Cohn. The guy looks quite young on his IMDb profile photograph but has a drawl not unlike the late Tobe Hooper's. Still, he's an engaging host and there are no pregnant pauses as he speaks honestly about what did and didn't work in the film. Sure, there are times he sounds like he's about to nod off (is he stoned?!), but that just made the track even more entertaining for me!
"The Devil Made Me Do It" is a 6-minute Behind-the-Scenes featurette. It's a polished, well-edited affair with plenty of talking head-style interviews with cast and crew members. A fast-paced prospect, we get more out of this than its meagre running time may suggest.
There's a bubbly 8 minutes worth of footage from the film's red carpet premiere, with an excitable cast talking to an even more excitable female interviewer.
A colourful, fast-moving slideshow follows, as does the film's intriguing 106-second trailer.
DEVIL'S DOMAIN attempts to cover a great deal of sincere ground in its early scenes, and then forsakes them in favour of cheap titillation and gory thrills during its final hour. Regardless of this, the likeable performances, stylish red hues and agreeable pace had me liking this slick, sleazy curiosity.
It's served commendably by Cleopatra/MVD's region-free blu-ray disc.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by MVD Visual Entertainment|