Movie Review: Devil's Whisper
Good performances can't overcome too familiar premise in Devil's Whisper.
I’m torn on the movie Devil’s Whisper. One side of me finds the film stylish, well acted and some of its ideas daring. The other side of me, however, cannot abide yet another movie where a demon of dubious abilities opens doors, manipulates electricity, or other such nonsense via mind control or some sort of demonic form ESP. When will filmmakers tire of these moronic tropes? When will a movie that has some good ideas about how to couch evil in a horror form to discuss big issues? Devil’s Whisper approaches big ideas but can’t resist demonic silliness.
Alex (Luca Oriel) is only 16-years-old but he already believes that he wants to be a priest. Alex’s mentor, Father Cutler (Rick Ravanello), wants him to slow down and live a little but Alex takes his path very seriously. That is, until Alex stumbles across a strange box in a collection of his recently deceased grandmother’s belongings. Inside the box is a cross once warn by a grandfather that Alex doesn’t remember well. He passed away when Alex was just five years old.
When Alex and his father, Marcos (Marcos A. Ferraez), open the box and retrieve the cross, the evil begins to take hold but like any silly demon possession movie, Devil’s Whisper has a demon of dubious abilities, meaning that this demon has somehow opened this giant piece of furniture, adhered a key for Alex to find to a compartment that shouldn’t be found, that contains a box that the demon somehow is able to convince Alex to try and open it. If the demon is powerful enough to do all of this, why does it need Alex?
Movies like Devil’s Whisper like to play fast and loose with the rules of their demon possession nonsense. The demon is able to take over Alex and have him act out of character, as in when he starts drinking Jagermeister from the bottle, attacks a friend for flirting with the girl he likes and then stealing the friend’s car and yelling at police who arrest him for drunk driving. And yet, the demon doesn’t need Alex when it attacks and murders several people, which Alex watches in his mind(?). I think that’s what happened but the movie is rather clumsy in these nonsense demon scenes.
What’s a real shame about the silly demon stuff is that Devil’s Whisper features some very strong and committed performances from Luca Oriel, soap opera veteran Rick Ravanello and Tessie Santiago, who portrays Alex’s mother, Lucia. As the backstory of Alex’s late grandfather is revealed to be at the heart of the demonic goings on, Devil’s Whisper takes on some weighty issues and Luca Oriel is more than up to the dramatic twists and turns.
Devil’s Whisper wastes the opportunity to use the overly familiar demonic possession genre to comment on some big issues. The film hints at the depths it could reach but it’s easier to go the demon with indecipherable powers route. It’s a true bummer because Luca Oriel acts his heart out throughout, to the point I can recommend the movie on his performance alone but with the caveat that there isn’t anything new in the story, just one really excellent performance.
I long for the day when filmmakers will awaken to the notion that the cheap shortcuts of demonic powers need to have some kind of logical basis. Having demons open doors or kill random people needs to have some kind of reasoning to it. The demon being evil simply isn’t enough, the evil has to have rules and logic for the tension of the idea to take hold. As it stands, it seems as if the demons just like screwing with people before they actually getting around to doing something evil.
Devil’s Whisper hints at doing something with this tired premise but prefers the demon trickster route and having the plot spin its wheels while the demon plays supposedly scary pranks involving closet doors and wooden boxes. The psychological and religious issues the film introduces as Luca’s unknowing backstory should have been enough to drive the plot on their own but unfortunately, Devil’s Whisper takes the easy way out.