WHERE THE DEVIL HIDES
THE DEVILS HAND
Where the Devil Hides seems to be setting out to do something different with the Devil Child theme, which has become an overused cliche in genre cinema. In a more original touch, the film is set within an Amish-like religious community. This immediately sets off some interesting moral conflicts a Biblical prophecy taking place among a religious group that people regard as extreme and crazy. The film never quite tackles the either/ors it creates here the question of whether the people are deluded in their superstitious worldview or if they are right what implications it holds for the rest of the world where it would seem that The Almighty requires an austere, judgmental and Luddhite lifestyle of us.
The setting and the series of murders taking place among the religious community and its difficult relationship with the outside world reminds a good deal of the less recognised Wes Craven film Deadly Blessing (1981). I found Christian E. Christiansens handling of The Roommate to be banal and cliche ridden but was surprised by Where the Devil Hides, which emerges as altogether a far better film. Christiansen keeps interest going with a series of novelty deaths Robin Dale Robertson throwing a rope around his neck and getting the horse to pull away and hang him; a woman jumping from the church steeple. The film is also rooted with a good performance from Colm Meaney who gets into the part with harsh firebrand enthusiasm. Particularly good is the scene where he takes Alycia Debnam-Carey in for a personal examination, which comes with an uneasy ambiguity that suddenly casts him, previously a staunch upholder of the faith, in a very creepy light.
The film arrives at an effective surprise revelation of the identity of the killer. What made the film a disappointment for me was the ending [PLOT SPOILERS]. Here the film chooses to go with the old standby of the twist that has become a cliche in which a crazy cult or believers are shown to have been right about their beliefs all along as the prophecy comes true and the surviving girl is revealed to be the devil child they all suspected. We have seen variations on this twist in films such as Servants of Twilight (1991), Breaking the Waves (1996), Frailty (2001), Believers (2007), End of the Line (2007), Take Shelter (2011) and The Invitation (2015), and served up again it seems tired and groan-worthy.