Thursday, 1 September 2011



An extremely lower-than-lower-than-microbudget horror drama, this is an ideal lesson in making a genre film on almost no money. One location, four speaking roles, no stunts, no effects, no chase sequences, no exploding helicopters, no big stars. Keep it tight, keep it taut, keep it simmering. In this instance the end result doesn't work perfectly - in the absence of action there's a lot of talk, particularly in the first third - but it still must surely be an invaluable How-To guide for serious aspiring film makers (rather than fanboy idiots) with limited resources.

The Devil's Business has a simple setup: two hit men waiting for their target to return home. One older, more experienced, cynical and controlled, the other younger, fidgety and impatient for some action. After a lengthy monologue about the spookiest thing the older killer has ever seen, the intended victim has still not arrived but things start to go wrong, specifically the discovery of something very nasty in the outhouse.... Who exactly is this man they've been sent to kill?

It's a very talky film, very dialogue heavy in the opening act, particularly the monologue which cheerfully ignores the "show, don't tell" maxim and just has a single take of Billy Clarke relating the story. But two men in a room talking isn't particularly cinematic - it's radio or theatre - and they only manage to pull it off because it's well written and compelling. But I really do believe they needed some more oomph: they needed to raise the level at the climax as it is a touch underwhelming, and that's a pity as the characters are nicely drawn. I just wanted to like it more than I ultimately did.


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