Teenager Lisa (Madi Vodane) is an ordinary-looking girl, glued to her phone as most youngsters nowadays are. We are introduced to her as she vomits into a toilet, her subsequent reaction almost impassive as she flushes the mess and returns to her computer. Scrolling through her social media, messages from an old friend Rhonda (Brenna Tucker) trigger a flashback depicting her and said friend hanging out at a park. Lisa is called her 'best friend', and a look of disappointment is spotted from her face. Then she makes a move, leaning in towards her just as Rhonda jumps up, shocked and embarrassed. Before any explanation can be thought up, she runs off.
Indeed, Lisa is a lesbian, closeted to her religious mother and distant but well-meaning stepfather. Rhonda has since met a new crowd of friends, and not the nice kind. Having told them what happened at that park, Lisa's life is living hell at school. She is bullied every day and verbally abused; 'idiot', 'dyke' etc. Another gay kid experiences similar harassment: guys block his way into the boys' toilet and call him 'shemale'. This school really isn't very pleasant.
Andrew (Zack Kozlow), another friend of Lisa's from the past, wants to get back in touch. He climbs in through her window one night with a milkshake for her, and appears friendly. He goes to use the toilet, but instead places a small camera in the corner of the room. Lisa suspects nothing as he flushes and returns to the bedroom, inconspicuously positioning another camera opposite her bed.
Soon enough, footage is caught that doesn't make Lisa look pretty. She binge eats cookies and biscuits (the vomiting makes sense now; she is bulimic), and masturbates visibly to porn. The bullies at school possessing these videos, they don't take their time sharing it around the school, ready for Lisa's following day of humiliation.
The video shared, her parents angry, herself in tears, she receives an online message from a stranger called Destiny (Linda Bella), who offers her support during this time. After a quick video chat, Lisa prepares to leave as a car is coming for her; Destiny has promised to help Lisa with her problem. But how? And who is this mysterious lady?
Jared Cohn's DEVIL'S DOMAIN is a curious one. It starts off in restrained fashion, and seems to know exactly what it wants to do; a serious drama about teen bullying. But with the sporadic scenes of people being brutalised and murdered, it quickly loses its sobriety and becomes a little more fun. But was that intended? The contrast between the uneasy first scenes of her at school and the following bloodbaths is odd.
By the end of this film, no ideas felt convincing as to what was going on, since it all seemed so painfully random, switching from a bullying flick, to torture porn, to softcore lesbian porn (no nudity, sorry) and finishing as an outright confusing revenge flick with big crazy lads wielding chainsaws and axes. Seriously, that's how it works out.
I could make no sense of it. Cohn's film felt like three or four brought together unsuccessfully. He also seems a bit too impatient with trying to force in some kind of message (though there isn't one to behold; bullying is bad, we knew that already), as practically every relevant social issue is included at some point: social media, peer pressure, bullying, sexuality, body image, self-harm... and none of those manage to produce a point; the script was far too excited about that possibility.
The acting was mediocre but Vodane was an acceptable lead (this was her first film). Production values were good, and the death scenes were creative which will definitely please some. The costume + makeup of one particular character was great, too.
But a decently made film should come with a decently written script, and DEVIL'S DOMAIN is sadly lacking.
I watched DEVIL'S DOMAIN via an online link emailed to me for the purpose of reviewing. Consequently there are no extras to talk about. The film arrived on DVD and Blu-Ray last month via Cleopatra Entertainment. A quick Google Image search offers the back cover, and it gives away the entire plot from start to finish... not good.
The soundtrack has also been released, available on iTunes with a good 35 tracks.
DEVIL'S DOMAIN had potential to be good: competent acting, good effects and it's genuinely well made. The weak story and dizzy direction, however, make this one not worth seeing.
Review by Elliott Moran
|Released by Cleopatra Entertainment|