Devil’s Gate, 2003.
Directed by Stuart St. Paul.
Starring Laura Fraser, Callum Blue, Luke Aikman and Tom Bell.
A woman is called to travel back to the small north sea island that she ran away from five years ago. During her stay, she tries to find out what happened to her mother.
One of the least appealing settings for any film is in a small and isolated community. If the inhabitants aren’t committing some kind bizarre ritual, they’re usually making any token outsider feeling extremely unwanted. From burning policemen in The Wicker Man to raping and terrorising a couple in Straw Dogs, highly populated cities never felt safer in comparison to the middle of nowheresville. So when a woman has to travel from the mainland to a remote north sea island, the isolation is so thick you could batter an outsider to death with it.
Devil’s Gate features young Rachael (Laura Fraser spending 90% of the film angry) flying to a bleak remote island after hearing about her fathers fatal condition. But as it turns out, her father (Tom Bell playing an Emmerdale extra) is suffering from nothing nearly as bad, and the island she left behind five years ago is still as unappealing as it was. Not only this, but her rough-round-the-edges ex-boyfriend (Callum Blue being as scruffy as you can without being a mess) is trying to make her stay for good this time round. There’s also the inclusion of wandering city boy (Luke Aikman – middle class), creating a barely tense love triangle.
The first thing that comes to mind when locking yourself away with this film is that it doesn’t feel like a film. It feels more like a one off drama showed on a Thursday night on ITV. The story has about as much depth as a Scottish stream, and is about as surprising as one, too. That is not to say that the film is a total write off. The acting is just about adequate and there are some moments of real tension. Unfortunately, any tension built up is instantly knocked down by an appalling score.
There seems to be two main motifs going on with it: Hans Zimmer-esque tension whenever someone runs away in anger, and an ear scratching horror-ish botch job that feels like it was created on a basic Casio keyboard. Although the former isn’t so bad, the exact same part play about five times in the film, so you get the idea that the imagination went running with them after the second time you hear it. It is very rare for a film’s soundtrack to ruin the experience, especially when everything visual in this flick is nothing to complain about at all.
Despite being well shot and quite well acted, Devil’s Gate really failed to hold my attention. The story is murky at best, and the narrative progresses at a corpses pace. The ending of the film is the only vaguely interesting part, but it really wasn’t worth trawling through the rest of it. Even if it was used as a one-off television drama, it still wouldn’t be received that well. Well, not unless they got a far better composer.
Devil’s Gate is released on DVD on October 31st.
Will Preston is a freelance writer from Portsmouth. He writes for various blogs (including his own website) and makes short films.