Devoured is the debut feature film from renowned documentary film maker Greg Olliver, who is probably most well known for the 2010 rockumentary Lemmy about the great Motörhead front man himself. It’s also a psychological horror thriller, similar in style to films like The Shining and Ju-on: The Grudge. So how does it fair against such classics? Well, first a bit about the film’s plot.
Lourdes is a single mother who works as a cleaner in a restaurant in down town New York. She is saving up her wages to pay for an operation that her sick son (who lives in Mexico with his grandmother) desperately needs. She begins to see disturbing visions at the restaurant late at night, but is she just paranoid, or are there real malevolent forces at work?
One of the most notable highlights of the film is the acting talent of Marta Milans who plays Lourdes. She makes the role very relatable and it’s very refreshing to watch strong, Hispanic female lead on screen. We see her character struggle with the hardship of working a tough menial job for little pay whilst also contending against the sleazy and horrid patrons and workers of the high-class restaurant where she works. The setting provides a great culture clash of rich and poor and Greg Olliver’s documentary background gives the film a real sense of gritty realism that you don’t often find when watching a horror film. There is a palpable atmosphere of oppression provided by a voyeuristic view into Loudes’ world that exists within the seedy underbelly of both the restaurant and society as a whole. Eerie shadows lurk round every corner and you really get the sense that you’re right in the middle of the story next to Loudes as she becomes more and more frightened of the unseen forces that seem to be watching her.
The use of symbolism and dream like sequences (or should that be nightmare like?) help to solidify the plot and offer us a glimpse into the lead character’s fractured psyche. There are also some tender heartfelt moments that show the love the character Lourdes has for her sick son which really make you genuinely empathise with her. As she becomes more trapped and ensnared in her situation we do too, but are powerless as a viewer to help her. This is the stuff great drama is made of.
Told as a prolonged flashback, Devoured takes the unusual route of revealing the end of the story first and works backwards. This actually works really well, as the events leading up to this conclusion are slowly revealed. This allows the tension and intrigue to build up, with jumps and scares becoming increasingly frequent and what starts as a slow burner eventually climaxes with a brutal conclusion that leaves the viewer shocked and stunned.
Chilling, thought provoking and disturbing, Devoured is a very impressive feature film debut indeed. I’d strongly recommend it to any horror fan.
4 / 5
Devoured is now available on demand. It is directed by Greg Olliver and written by Marc Landau. It stars Marta Milans, Kara Jackson, Bruno Gunn, Tyler Hollinger, Luis Harris, Sal Rendino, and David Conley. Devoured is being released courtesy of Gravitas Ventures.