The Diabolical (2015)

Posted: October 19, 2015 in FILM REVIEWS/COMMENTS
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  *** This review may contain spoilers ***

A single mother moves into a haunted house only to find there is something else terrorizing her that may not be a ghost.

Reminiscent of the 100 feet (2008), Jessabelle (2014) and The Pact (2012) to name a few and the likes of paradox films Terminator (1984), Predestination (2014) thrown in for good measure, The Diabolical tries it hardest to put a spin on the haunted house genre. Director, writer Alistair Legrand along with writer Luke Harvis give a script that’s mostly confined to one location. Harvis and Legrand offer reasonable reasons why the family can’t leave the home and they keep everything quite grounded for the genre with the spiritual investigation scenes short and sweet. As with most new model horrors the victims refreshingly tackle the spectre-like assailants head on.

There’s great gooey looking practical effects and some modest visual effects setups as the single parent family is frightened. Ian Hultquist delivers a great score, however, the compositions are overused during some of the talking scenes. What’s notable about Legrand’s offering is that the child actors are very plausible, also Ali Larter as Madison shoulders the film effortlessly with a good performance.

What could have been a mundane, Legrand’s camera work with John Frost cinematography and sharp editing from Blair Miller make the sets ups interesting especially when Madison enlists the help of her scientist boyfriend and during a game of Monopoly and they are attacked. There’s also sub-plots of a house foreclosure and the future making of a terrible teen which are both handled well.

As it unfolds that the haunting is not her deceased husband, but is due to something scientific involving her son, it shifts echoing a Lost in Space (1998) twist device as Madison in the closing tries to break a potential time loop. With an interesting take on a worn twist, The Diabolical is tied up nicely. It’s a film that attempts to avoid old horror tropes but like quicksand the harder it tries the more it falls into the hallmarks.

Overall, it’s a solid enough chiller to pass the time with.

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