Today: June 19, 2024

The Devil’s Business

Two hitmen, taciturn veteran Pinner (Billy Clarke) and nervous rookie Cully (Jack Gordon) are dispatched by gangster Bruno (Harry Miller) to murder his former associate, the mysterious Mr Kist (Jonathan Hansler).

Two hitmen, taciturn
veteran Pinner (Billy Clarke) and nervous rookie Cully (Jack Gordon) are
dispatched by gangster Bruno (Harry Miller) to murder his former associate, the
mysterious Mr Kist (Jonathan Hansler).

Breaking into Kist’s secluded country home, the pair settle down to wait
for their target to return from a night at the opera. It’s not long however before the jumpy, inexperienced, motor-mouthed
Cully is getting on the nerves of world-weary professional Pinner. A swaggering, mouthy wideboy on his
first job who’s having some serious doubts about his career path, Cully just
asks way too many questions for Pinner who likes to keep things simple. But when they stumble upon a makeshift
Satanic altar and the remains of a sacrificed baby in Kist’s garage, it soon
becomes clear that they’re in over their heads and meddling with dark, deadly
forces they can’t begin to comprehend.

Owing as much to Pinter and Nic Roeg (there are echoes of both Performance and Don’t Look Now) as it does
to The Wicker Man or last year’s Kill List and clocking in at a lean 69
minutes, writer/director Sean Hogan’s
Faustian hitman horror The Devil’s
Business
is an economical little no-budget chiller which feels like The Dumb Waiter rewritten by Shaun Hutson. Filmed in around 9 days in the
producer’s in-laws’ house, the film has a theatrical claustrophobia to it and takes
the time to build its creeping atmosphere of foreboding and brooding dread, in
spite of its slender running time, before inevitably tipping over into last act
bloody hysteria.

The performances are fine with Clarke’s stiffer, more mannered Pinner
contrasting well with Gordon’s naturalistic, increasingly panicked Cully while
Hansler drips polite menace as the devilish Kist, seemingly channeling Roger
Allam at his oily, seductive best, but the film offers few surprises. From its Dennis Wheatley-flavoured
opening credits to the ‘80s-style synths that feebly echo Argento, you know
exactly what to expect from the film and it doesn’t disappoint delivering a
refreshingly understated, low-fi British horror flick. The Devil’s Business is a tense, nasty
little shocker which draws you in with its eerie ordinariness before its final
nihilistic twist.

David Watson

David Watson is a screenwriter, journalist and 'manny' who, depending on time of day and alcohol intake could be described as a likeable misanthrope or a carnaptious bampot. He loves about 96% of you but there's at least 4% he'd definitely eat in the event of a plane crash. Email: david.watson@filmjuice.com

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