Devilreaux (2023) Review
As Devilreaux opens, Lt. Bobbie Briggs (Krista Grotte Saxon, The Rack Pack, The Penthouse) is pissed off. She has to push back her dinner with Peter (Jon Briddell, Piranha Women, Doom Patrol). She’s stuck at the hospital getting a statement from Lexy (Monaye Moyes, Little Miss Perfect, Summer with the Guys) who survived an attack that left her friends dead. That involves forcing her to take a lie detector test right there in her hospital bed and without an attorney present. But her mother (Madeleine Falk, 2025 Armageddon, Snakes on a Train) is there so I guess it’s ok.
Over dinner, she casually asks Peter “What do you know about Devilreaux?” It seems Lexys boyfriend is Peter’s son Dylan (Kole Benfield, Hammer: The ‘Rootin’ for Regen’ Story, Amityville Uprising). And, of course, there’s a connection between his family and Devilreaux which we learn about in a flashback that makes up half of the movie.
Devilreaux’s mother was a slave who was raped by the plantation owner. His father, played by Candyman himself Tony Todd, was killed trying to avenge her. Devilreaux himself was beaten to death for daring to talk to a white woman by the same man who killed his father. And now, after being summoned by Lexy and her friends “playing the game” he’s back to finish killing off the descendants using the same shovel that was used to kill him.
Director Thomas J. Churchill (The Amityville Moon, Xenophobia) wrote the script from an idea by Vincent M. Ward (Cold Blooded Killers, Live Evil)who also plays Devilreaux. Or I could be less charitable and say they ripped the idea off from Candyman. As derivative as it all is, Devilreaux could have at least been a tolerable time killer, but even that modest achievement was beyond the filmmakers’ abilities.
The film goes wrong almost from the start with some truly bad acting from Saxon and Falk. Saxon seems to be angry throughout the film, as if having to do her job is some horrible imposition on her character’s time.
That however is the least of Devilreaux’s problems. The script’s structure seems designed to keep the viewer from getting into the story. Apart from a couple of murders in a brief prologue, the first act is all talk. Then it goes into the past for a talky explanation of the killer’s past, a story that could easily have been told in half the time. When we come back to the present we get more flashbacks as Lexy recounts what happens and then a sudden transition to a press conference with a pissed off Briggs repeating “I can’t comment on that” over and over.
Despite an “R” rating for “Bloody Violence” most of the killings in Devilreaux happen off screen or aren’t particularly bloody. We do get to see a head roll down some stairs, but they couldn’t even be bothered smearing some fake blood on its neck leaving the white plaster clearly visible. It also can’t keep its story straight about the killings. Devilreaux supposedly kills using the shovel that killed him, but we see him using a hacksaw on one victim and a baseball bat on another.
Voodoo doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves from filmmakers, and when it does it usually doesn’t end well. Devilreaux is no exception, and after the character’s creation ends up mostly ignoring it. Instead, it resorts to a resurrection by way of Ouija Board and a bland, stereotypical supernatural slasher storyline. The result is a film that fails to even deliver a couple of jump scares or unintentional laughs. It actually makes the director’s Amityville films look, if not good then at least less awful.
Lionsgate has released Devilreaux to VOD and Digital Platforms. It will be available on DVD on July 18th. And if you’re looking for something similar, but hopefully better FilmTagger can suggest a few titles.