The Devil’s Left Hand (2023) Film Review
When it comes to indie horror, it’s very common for producers and directors to cross boundaries that should never be crossed. Constraints should be an essential part of the idea, and the concept should be built from what you can do budget-wise to tell a story about a genre that most people ignore. This is something that becomes clear early on Harvey Wallen‘s The devil’s left hand.
Wallen knows exactly who his film is made for. He doesn’t want to impress anyone The devil’s left hand, and you could almost accuse him of holding back in a genre where the lack of rules often makes everything better. Fortunately, being aware of your capabilities will make your film more digestible. He is always in control of the story, which works for some and seems too simple for others. As for me, I just wanted to be entertained by a horror movie and this is what I got. You know what I’m going to say next.
In The devil’s left hand, a group of friends gather to have a séance during a housewarming party. Yes, for fun! As if people weren’t dead/scared to death/obsessed with these in the past. Regardless, things take a turn for the worse when a physical manifestation seems too much for the group. They’ve contacted you and it’s too late.
Richie is affected by the event. A very traumatic past is enough for her to start seeing things after she suspects her dead father may have come back to haunt her. His mother is in a bed in a mental hospital, and he is also suffering from the trauma. They must enlist the help of the psychic who started it all to fight a demon with abilities ranging from shape-shifting to physically harming anyone in its path.
Trauma is always a big selling point for horror movies because it allows for some drama to be part of the plot. It’s no longer about jump scares and horror tropes being overused to punctuate the horror. Wallen refuses to move to a cheap plot. Rather, it delves into Richie’s story so that the focus of the film is on the strength of his inner demon and how they can cross certain lines if the guy is weak enough. The supporting cast surrounding him is an emotional compendium that allows him to achieve what he aims for. In the third act, which takes place in a few minutes, the power of the demon becomes clear and The devil’s left hand it turns into a full horror movie.
The movie isn’t perfect. It will ask questions about some plot devices (kitchen safe?) and some characters…not necessary. But it doesn’t affect the experience. Wallen uses his horror knowledge to his advantage to create an indie horror that can showcase his skills. As a horror film, it feels incomplete. But as an approach to the horror subgenre, it’s pretty promising.
And if you don’t know what I meant by “you know what I’m going to say next” before, here it is: Sometimes it’s all about having fun, and Wallen’s independent approach to the possessive film was good enough for that.