Set in the small town of Devil's Gate, North Dakota, the film examines the disappearance of a local woman and her young son. Schull plays an FBI agent who helps the local sheriff search for answers. Partnering with a deputy, they track down the missing woman's husband and find that nothing is as it seems.
Directed by: Clay Staub
. Starring: Milo Ventimiglia
, Bridget Regan
, Javier Botet
, Amanda Schull
, Shawn Ashmore
, Jonathan Frakes
, Spencer Drever
, Adam Hurtig
, Scott Johnson
, Will Woytowich
, Beverly Ndukwu
, Sarah Constible
, Jan Skene
. Music by: Keefus Ciancia
DEVIL'S GATE establishes its atmosphere with its very first shot which is an eye line down an arrow-straight dirt road that proceeds to the vanishing point. There is just the road, endless vistas of flat, featureless hectares of dirt on either side, and all beneath a monotonous sky. Barreling down the dirt road, an early model muscle car suddenly dies just as it passes a ramshackle farm. This farm will be the focal point of the majority of the movie.
As there is nothing else but this farm as far as the eye can see, the driver of the car seeks assistance at the farm, which, as it turns out, is very unfortunate for the driver. In the fullness of time we learn that what happens to the driver is just an unfortunate case of wrong place, wrong time.
And that is an example of the strength of this movie. Something strange is definitely going on, but we don't know exactly WHAT is going on for some time. On the face of it, what we THINK is sequentially unfolding is a more or less mundane investigation by an imported FBI agent come to assist the local sheriff's office in a missing persons (or perhaps murder) case. It's never very clear why the FBI is called in on what should be a local missing persons case, but there is a vague reference mentioned that the local sheriff's department is "under scrutiny" right now and we viewers conclude that this scrutiny has led to the involvement of the FBI agent.
Apparently, on the face of it, a local farmer, the same farmer were the driver met his unfortunate end, has blown a head gasket which has resulted in the disappearance of his wife and son, and the disappearance has been reported by the sister of the disappeared woman. In a clear, sequential fashion, a collection of scenes and circumstances lead us to believe that the monotony and difficulty of farm life in this desolate place has caused the farmer to become unglued and to do something unspeakable to his wife and son which may be either outright murder or, as we are led to believe, he has perhaps locked them in the basement in unpleasant circumstances. The farm itself looks like it has been transformed by the farmer into a barricade situation. What happened to the driver we viewers would probably conclude is simply an unfortunate side effect of the farmer's mental illness and hostility to the outside world's interference.
The reality of the true circumstances of the situation are much, much different. Seeing where this movie is going to go is a big part of the fun.
While the horrorsupernaturalparanormal movies are the cultural red-headed bastard children of the movie industry, they are my personal favorites. Unfortunately, the vast majority of such movies, especially with the rise of the "found footage" sub genre, are unmitigated crap. Only a tiny fraction are any good and, very happily, DEVIL'S GATE falls into this tiny fraction. Within this class of movie, DEVIL'S GATE is pretty much as good as it gets. Cinematography is excellent, atmosphere is taught and sustained, the relatively small quantity of special-effects is exceptionally well done, satisfyingly scary, and does not usurp the storyline, the music contributes well and appropriately to excellent effect, etc. This movie is just a very well done, well thought-out and executed example of this genre.
Of course the individual plot elements have all been done before because, at this point in mankind's history of storytelling and moviemaking, pretty much every plot element has already been used. But this particular combination and expression is original as far as I know. And most satisfyingly and rather unusually for this genre, it's not just dripping with gaping plot holes. It's actually pretty tight.
A particularly nice touch is that the movie came to its conclusion in a very reasonable way, but also left the door just enough open that a sequel could easily be made.
Review by S_Soma from the Internet Movie Database.