High school…it can be absolute hell, and Lisa Pomson is a young woman who can vouch for the veracity of that statement. She’s a smart, sweet and pretty, but also quite timid. Aside from that, Lisa is just your average bulimic, sexually conflicted cutter, whose parents don’t understand her teenage plight. And while the daily verbal barbs and jabs her classmates inflict upon her have become commonplace, in this digital world we live in, social media platforms have become tools by which cyber bullies can wage incredibly malicious and cruel attacks on their victims. So when an embarrassing video of her makes its way into the hands of her tormentors, it takes little time for it to make the rounds at her school.
The incessant teasing that results is enough to push her to the brink of suicide, that is until a mysterious stranger reaches out to Lisa online pull her back from the edge. Lisa’s “savior” is a blonde temptress named Destiny, who insists they meet in person. Lisa agrees and soon feels as if she’s found an ally, but Destiny turns out to literally be the devil in disguise. Does Lisa want to be liked, to be popular or simply to see an end to the bullying? Destiny can see to all of these things and so much more, but oh baby, there will be a price to be paid. Lisa must remember what the author E. T. A. Hoffman once wrote, “Once you are dancing with the devil, the prettiest capers won’t help you.”
Devil’s Domain was directed by Jared Cohn based on a script he also wrote. The story presents an interesting concept of a bullied girl making a pact with the devil to exact revenge on her bullies and tormentors. However, the film plays out like a hybrid of Rosemary’s Baby, Mean Girls and one of those cheesy ABC After School Specials. Seriously, just think about this for a minute – you come home after school and turn on the TV to watch an after school special that not only addresses the dangers of cyber bullying, but also the consequences the victim could face for making a pact with the devil to wreak vengeance upon said bullies. There’s a contrived campiness that takes the edge off the story’s darkness. Such subject matter should be full on pitch black, and this film doesn’t even touch charcoal grey. And in regards to anything remotely scary or frightening…move along, nothing to see here.
The acting overall, was pretty mediocre. The performances of the actors and actresses playing the high school kids and bullies were exaggerated and over the top, almost annoyingly so. As Lisa, Madi Vodane’s performance was a little inconsistent. It would have been nice to see some genuine fear or anguish in her portrayal of this tormented teen girl. Linda Bella gave a decent, albeit rather cliché femme fatale performance, in her role as Destiny aka the devil aka the Princess of Darkness. As far as Michael Madsen is concerned, do I really even have to say anything? He’s never been what I considered an “according to Hoyle” actor. He doesn’t bend to the will of the character so much as he bends the character to suit himself. I dig that about him and it’s no different here, despite the fact his talent is under-utilized in this film.
All of the on screen deaths in the movie are somewhat run of the mill, uninteresting and are frankly, pardon the pun, not well executed. And the majority of the practical effects, while serviceable, are not overly impressive. The one really impressive effect in the film was the Red Devil suit worn by actress, Angie Stevenson.
This is a film that had a good chance to address a very real social ill – cyber bullying or just bullying in general. Imagine the pain and desperation one would have to be feeling, that to rid oneself of such harassment, they might make a pact with the devil him…or herself. But in the case of this film, I don’t feel the subject matter got its due deference. There was no edge, no grit and no substance. It was borderline satire, but without the humor. Damn, at that point can you even call it satire? Nope. 4 / 10