The first time I saw “Devoured” I loved it and was fully prepared to write a rave review, but the second time I was a little less enamored. I still think the film invokes a genuine feeling of dread and has a terrific lead performance by leading lady Marta Milans, but it also occasionally utilizes worn horror tropes and just takes a little too long to get itself going.
The unnamed heroine is a Latina immigrant who seems to be going insane… but is she? The woman dreams of saving up enough money to pay for surgery for her extremely ill son, who still lives in Mexico with his grandmother. She also aspires to bring the boy and her mom to the states to live with her. She struggles to make ends meet and accomplish her goal working in a little restaurant in the city.
But something is amiss. Doors slam, figures prowl, her antagonistic boss nettles, and most of the men take a purely physical or even predatory interest in our heroine. Spooky things seem to happen when she goes into the basement of the restaurant. And what exactly is behind the unopened door in the back of the cellar?
We can’t help but root for our heroine, despite her less-than-charitable attitude toward the upper-middle class customers who frequent the restaurant. She obviously would do anything for her son. But is she the woman she seems to be? And are her visions figments of an overactive psyche, or something more sinister?
“Devoured” maintains a palpable sense of unease, boosted by a powerful performance by Marta Milans. You can genuinely feel Milan’s anxiety and fear as she walks the unfamiliar streets of the unforgiving urban city in which she dwells. Hopefully MIlans will draw attention to herself in the moviemaking world with this film and will get some more roles soon. She’s attractive, which doesn’t hurt.
There are a few too many claustrophobic close-ups of foods being prepared and chopped in this flick. It works for a certain length of time (and is perhaps, like the title, and commentary on American decadence,) but after a while seem like filler. Bruno Gunn lends a certain creditability as a guy who befriends the lead and the only man in the movie whose not a total scumbucket.
“Devoured” is an effective low budget horror who mysteries and secrets lead to a surprisingly innovative twist ending. It comes down to this… if you can find it, see it, and pay no heed to the one-star reviews circulating around the internet. It is slow, maybe to a fault at moments, but its got verve and heart and the director obviously knows what he’s doing. If his first narrative feature holds this much promise, God knows what kind of cool shit he’ll come up with for his next movie. I’m personally excited for him. Maybe, after seeing this clever little chiller, you will be too.