Small but almost perfectly formed, that’s probably the best way to describe The Devil’s Business. It only has five actors appearing onscreen, with most scenes focusing on any two characters at one time, and the focus is on the dialogue and the atmosphere throughout, with some superb monologues distracting viewers from the obvious low budget and limited resources.
The premise is a simple one. Two hitmen (one older and experienced, played by Billy Clarke, and the other one young and a bit nervy, played by Jack Gordon) sit and wait for their victim to arrive back at his home. While waiting they talk to each other, with the older man telling a creepy tale to the young lad. It’s just a waiting game with nothing much that can be done about it though things take a turn for the strange when the hitmen discover some artifacts and nastiness that show them that their intended victim has some strange practices, to say the least.
Director Sean Hogan does a very good job here, especially when you consider that money was lost and a replacement location had to be found at the eleventh hour, and things are never boring but it’s in the writing department that he really excels. The story that develops in the movie is surprisingly predictable but no worse for it. The main story is actually the one told by the older hitman to the youngster, a story that is effectively interspersed throughout the rest of the movie after most of it is conveyed in two large sections in the first half of the film. It feels very much like a traditional, fireside tale and I LIKE that kind of horror piece, something that’s usually only seen nowadays on TV Christmas specials. The fact that the film runs for only 69 minutes adds to that feeling.
The small group of actors all do very well, with Billy Clarke being the absolute stand-out. Jack Gordon is fantastic and believable as the young, inexperienced lad trying to act tough but happy to show his vulnerable side as soon as things start to get strange. Jonathan Hansler is very good as the potential victim and Harry Miller is suitably loud and sweary as Bruno, the man who emplyed the hitmen for the job.
With a nice, brooding soundtrack by Justin Greaves, some great lighting and colour choices and a real build-up of tension throughout, The Devil’s Business is a little movie that still just about manages to pack a fairly big punch. It deserves to do well and I hope that horror fans seek it out. I’m sure that some will hate it but many others may well appreciate it as I did.
The Devil’s Business hits DVD on 10th September. The disc includes an informative and lively commentary track involving director Sean Hogan and producer Jennifer Handorf (found in the Set Up submenu, as opposed to the Extra Features section), one little interesting outtake and an interview with Justin Greaves, the man responsible for the haunting soundtrack, that runs for about 15 minutes.. Like the film itself, it’s not too much but it’s a great little mix.
WRITER/DIRECTOR: SEAN HOGAN
STARS: BILLY CLARKE, JACK GORDON, JONATHAN HANSLER, HARRY MILLER
RUNTIME: 69 MINS APPROX