Hollywood, California – the land of dreams… where anyone can make it big and everyone wants to be a star. A scorching sun blazes down on the beautiful and glamorous people. The ocean hums a hypnotizing melody in the background. The promise of hope lingers in the air amidst the car exhaust fumes, but there is something else hidden underneath – an unspoken but almost tangible atmosphere of despair and desperation. This is the world in which Devils in Disguise, the debut feature from director Guillaume Campanacci is set.
The film was shot in just eleven days on a very low budget with a crew you could count on one hand and is a psychosexual thriller centered around two roommates, Leila and Sandy who conspire together to take revenge on Leila’s abusive boyfriend, Alain. Leila is shy and unassuming and suffers from acute body dysmorphia, a trait that seems to hint at a sinister inner perfectionism. Sandy, by contrast is confident, outgoing and determined, so when the two meet an instant attraction is naturally ignited. Add to this the enigma of Alain’s personality, at turns manipulative and vulnerable and you have a mix that creates the main theme of the film – dangerously co-dependent relationships. Here is a love triangle in which all three players seem to willing to stop at nothing to get what they desire.
Stylistically, the film lies somewhere in between the works of Jean-Luc Goddard and David Lynch. Dream-like sequences intertwine with each other in a non-linear sequence that creates the impression that the viewer is lost and searching for a way out, whilst helplessly peering in on the private events of a stranger’s life. These events are hinted at from the shadows rather than being shown in a glaring light that reveals every minute detail and the spectrum in which we view them switches from black and white to colour sporadically, sometimes during the same scene. This blinking sense of contradiction is a thread that runs throughout the entire film… our perceptions of reality are constantly challenged as are our empathetic allegiances to the characters involved. Light is contrasted with darkness, silences with noise, and clarity with confusion.
All of this is held together masterfully, whilst an evocative score heightens the film’s palpable sense of surreal suspense. A bold, compelling, provocative and emotionally powerful tale of love, deception and murder, Devils in Disguise is a must watch.
4.5 / 5
DEVILS IN DISGUISE is directed by Guillaume Campanacci and stars Magen Mattox, Montanna Gillis, Guillaume Campanacci, Tad Brown, Laura Walker, Ed Feldman, Laeticia Eido, Kelsie Macray, Vedrana Egon, Pilar Arias, Mike McCarthy, Christopher Shin and Priscilla Macias.