I recommend keeping the name Aislinn Clarke in mind. As a director making her first feature-length film, she is likely to become a name we’ll encounter more often in the future, thanks to her unique approach in this movie. In times when exorcism-themed horror films have become scarce, those who decide to explore this theme need to introduce an interesting idea to capture attention. To avoid repetition, they must bring an original perspective. While Aislinn Clarke might not have achieved a profound change in the script, from a technical standpoint, she has crafted one of the most successful works in recent years: The Devil’s Doorway.
Let’s briefly touch on the plot: In the 1960s, a church was devoted to gathering and healing marginalized and troubled women. This miraculous transformation caught the Vatican’s attention, and the Vatican sent Father Thomas Riley and Father John Thornton to the church to understand, observe, and document the events taking place there.
The church is a classic one. It’s the conventional, familiar horror movie church where strange events occur, where children’s souls run amok at night, and where some rooms appear and disappear. The priests witness peculiar events every night that they will record. After all, in films, the church is never truly God’s house. It’s a place inhabited by demons, where they take over nuns, play with and then kill the newcomers. Am I right? In this regard, the film doesn’t offer anything new. There’s a rather conventional storyline at its core.
However, what sets the film apart from other church/exorcism films is its shooting technique. The entire film was shot using a 16mm camera. When you start watching the film without this knowledge, you may begin to think that there’s something wrong with the visuals. Actually, that’s the point of the film. It’s all deliberately old and blurry footage. Due to the entire film being shot with a 16mm camera, all the effects are handcrafted. As a result, the film lacks modern digital effects. Nonetheless, it succeeds in delivering a quality film with old-school techniques.
Using a camera from that era for the narrative of a film set in the 1960s makes it visually captivating. In this aspect, director Aislinn Clarke managed to catch my attention with her original choice. The only issue with this choice is that it necessitates some savings in editing. They have managed to ensure continuity by frequently using shaky hand flashlights in almost every scene. While it contributes to the flow of the film, the frequency of this choice can become somewhat discomforting.
In conclusion, “The Devil’s Doorway” is a church/exorcism film that has been entirely shot in authentic 16mm and contains not a single digital effect. Despite being a found-footage film, it boasts successful shots, and its horror element isn’t half bad either. The film keeps you engaged with an unfolding mystery and strange occurrences each night. With its eerie visuals and solid performances from the characters, I believe the film will be remembered as a notable horror film of 2019, waiting to be discovered.
Cast & Crew
director: Aislinn Clarke
writers: Aislinn Clarke, Martin Brennan, Michael B. Jackson
starring: Lalor Roddy, Ciaran Flynn, Helena Bereen, Lauren Coe, Carleen Melaugh, Dearbhail Carr, Charlie Bonner
UK | 2018 | 76 MINUTES |