Not rated | Time: 1:31
Here is a friendly reminder to any teenage girl offered an exciting opportunity to sell her soul: It’s a bad idea. It doesn’t matter that you believe that it’s nonsense. It doesn’t matter that all you have to do, for $500, is play a creepy parlor game. It won’t end well.
But that is the starting point for “At the Devil’s Door,” a shape-shifting horror film whose main interest comes from its fluctuating point of view. In the opening section, set in 1987, Hannah (Ashley Rickards) learns the consequences of taking that wad of cash. The movie then turns its focus to a real estate broker, Leigh (Catalina Sandino Moreno), who’s trying to sell Hannah’s old house, before passing the narrative baton to Leigh’s sister, Vera (Naya Rivera).
Writer/director Nicholas McCarthy, has made little attempt to disguise his influences. The film gives us possessed levitations (“The Exorcist,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street”), a girl in a red coat (“Don’t Look Now”), a satanic pregnancy (“Rosemary’s Baby”) and a demon child (“The Omen”).
This is the sort of cinematic patchwork from which Brian De Palma made his name, yet the style and playfulness of De Palma’s work are absent. The horror genre motifs have become almost comforting in their familiarity.
“At the Devil’s Door” is reasonably absorbing but never scary or satirically sharp (despite references to mortgages and foreclosures). It mostly settles for inducing sensation. The overactive soundtrack would test any viewer’s reflexes.
(At Screenland Armour.)
| Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times