Having been shown around the festival circuit last year, writer/director Sean Hogan’s black magic shocker The Devil’s Business finally comes to DVD via Metrodome. But does it… ahem… do the business… as it were?
Professional hitman Mr. Pinner (Billy Clarke) and novice wannabe gangster Cully (Jack Gordon) break into a house one dark night. The house belongs to a Mr. Kist (Jonathan Hansler), an acquaintance of their boss Bruno (Harry Miller) who has sent the pair to kill Kist. After the unwitting duo have broken in they lay in wait for their target and, after doing a search of the property, soon discover that not everything is as it seems and the job won’t be as straightforward as they first thought.
At around seventy minutes long The Devil’s Business plays out more like an episode of Tales of the Unexpected or Hammer House of Horror. A comparison made not only because of the length of it but also the feel, as most of that running time is made up of dialogue between Pinner and Cully as they make discoveries not only about their potential hit but also about each other. Billy Clarke does a tremendous job of relaying a ten-minute monologue about a previous job as the camera closes in on his face in the dark-lit house, and Jack Gordon – who really does resemble a young Clive Owen – does equally as well as his very green apprentice, and the pair do get a good on-screen rapport going.
Where the film starts to unravel is towards the end, when the suspense that was built up is sacrificed for cheap jump scares and even cheaper special effects. If you listen to the dialogue early on in the film, the end reveal isn’t too much of a surprise but, in case you’re not up on your occultist phraseology and therefore not aware of what’s coming, it’s still something of a let-down. Maybe it’s because the first half of the film was so good and dramatic that the ending just feels rushed and uninspired, like Hogan had the makings of a good story but wasn’t sure how to finish it off.
But if you’re willing to let the ending go over your head there is something of a good film here. Clarke and Gordon are utterly convincing as the hitmen who’ve gotten in over their heads, Jonathan Hansler has something of a sinister Nigel Havers vibe about him that works for his character and the limited setting brings about a feeling of claustrophobia that adds to the insanity that unfolds. It’s just that Saturday evening prime-time television ending…
The Devil’s Business is in cinemas from August 17th