Upstream: Devil’s Gate on Netflix

“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.”

Matthew 24:30

Devil’s Gate is the 2017 sci-fi/horror film and is Clay Staub’s directorial debut. Having served as assistant director on Frank Millar’s 300 and Dawn of the Dead, he certainly cut his teeth on some impressive projects. I caught this one on Netflix, not knowing anything about it prior. The write up made it sound more like a crime thriller, but that was quickly thrown out the window once I got into the story. Marrying sci-fi and horror isn’t the easiest task and there are some pretty big shoes to fill when it comes to films that have done it successfully; Alien, The Thing, and Pitch Black to name a few. We’ll keep this review as spoiler free as possible, just be aware we can’t really talk about it at without revealing the basic premise and it might be better if you gave the film a shot and then came back to see if you agree on our points about the movie. It was enjoyable for me to just watch the story unfold not knowing anything about the film’s theme.

While the story starts off as any typical missing persons/murder/crime drama with an FBI agent being brought into a Podunk town to assist with an investigation. The film slips ever so gracefully into a deeply entwined story that touches on several genres all at once; religion, alien abduction, cultism, horror, and sci-fi all make equal contributions to the mythos presented. There were more than enough twists and fresh takes on the material to keep my interest from start to finish. I really don’t want to spoil anything here by going into more details about the story, but it is safe to say the film is worth watching.

Devils Gate stars Amanda Schull (12 Monkeys TV series), Shawn Ashmore (X-Men, The Day) and Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes, Chosen). Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek TSG) takes a turn as Sheriff Gruenwell. While the film had a modest budget, you couldn’t tell based on the talent cast or the excellent SFX. I love seeing the actors take the material seriously, no matter how far fetched and I was pleased to see that here. The movie was primarily shot in one location which did serve to keep the budget down. I will say that there are some loose ends left hanging and while not obviously set up for a sequel, the potential is clearly there.

The film was shot giving it an incredibly washed out and pale look. It reminded me of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which really had that sun baked feel all the way through it. Seasoned cinematographer Miroslaw Baszak, who worked with Staub on 300 and Dawn of the Dead, did a great job of bringing a desolate atmosphere to the film. I don’t think it would have been half as impactful without his hand. Alchemy 24 provided both digital and practical SFX for the film and did so with acute flare and realism. The creature FX were some of the best I’ve seen in a long while with almost everything being digital now. Give it a watch, it is worthy of a slot in your “My List” on Netfix!

The Original Sherlock Holmes and his Baker Street Irregulars

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Evil genius and future ruler of this puny planet.

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