Movie Review: An Orphan discovers what it means to be “The Devil’s Child”

On a gloomy, fog-enshrouded night a decaying mansion is glimpsed in the darkness. It is where Nurse Cherry’s new assignment is. She will take care of the very old, quite-catatonic master of the house.

Little does she suspect, as servant/chauffeur Dwayne takes her bag out of the ancient British limo, that this place, this job and this “arrangement” is going to bring back the demons of her orphaned childhood along with hints of the dark Halliwell family history haunting these halls.

But we suspect. Because we can’t miss that opening scene where Cherry had “weirdo” scrawled on her forehead by the cruelest orphans there. Because the cadaverous old man (Germán Naranjo) looks like the Living Dead, or the Undead.

Because we’ve seen his imperious daughter (Fiona Horsey) show us the whites of her eyes — and only the whites.

It takes a very VERY long time for anything to “happen” in Colombian writer-director David Bohorquez’s “The Devils Child.” Somebody is yanked out of the frame at roughly the one-hour mark.

Apparently, Bohorquez needed the hour that precedes that almost-scary moment to bore us to death.

Still, it’s an oddly-disorienting horror tale. The accents are distractingly hard to place. Cherry’s is plainly Spanish, Dwayne (Marvens Passioano) is explained away as “island” (Caribbean).

Miss Naomi, the owner’s daughter, has a reasonably-convincing North American accent, as do Cherry’s friends-since-orphanhood. I found myself lost in trying to set this story in some sort of geographic reality — Louisiana without the drawl? That’s a pointless exercise, but the film is so dull that’s where the mind wanders.

Cherry takes the job, accepts the order to keep “the curtains drawn” and the lamps down low in the old man’s room. She explores, and stumbles into visions of children wandering the halls.

She dances with Dwayne and imagines she’s tripping the light fantastic with patriarch Philip in his platinum-blond youth. And she has nightmares. None of which produces anything remotely frightening.

“It’s not real, it’s all in your HEAD” she chants in the manner of 4,321 horror heroines before her.

The accents are worth fixating on because the actors labor through their line readings like they’ve been sentenced to “Hooked on Phonics.” It makes a couple of the players come off as rank amateurs. But if you want your movie, titled “Diavlo” in Colombia, to earn a North American release, this is a price you pay.

Plot elements are introduced — Philip was once “a highly-respected psychic.” — and forgotten. Characters go missing or go mad.

And nothing resolves itself in a way that makes the least bit of sense. Nothing.

MPA Rating: unrated, horror violence, drug use

Cast: Maria Camila Perez, Marvens Passiano, Fiona Horsey, Francisca Tevez and Germán Naranjo.

Scripted and directed by David Bohorquez. A Vertical release.

Running time: 1:28

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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