When I started surfing horror blogs, one thing I noticed was that while everyone and their dog had a review of Alice, Sweet Alice – a movie that, as a child, I would have sworn I was the only person in the world to have ever seen or heard of – almost no one had a review of Devour.
Then I realized why there are no reviews. It’s because there is only one reason on God’s green earth to watch Devour: you and your girlfriends are gearing up to eat ice cream and watch every single movie Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki have ever been in, and you’re putting off the evil hour when you’re going to have to suck it up and pop in that Lifetime movie about Thomas Kinkade teaching some hapless town the meaning of Christmas. (Be told: single-malt doesn’t go well with most ice cream flavors. For this marathon you’re going to have to break out the tequila.)
So in a way, there’s no sense in doing a review. You’re either going to watch it because Jensen Ackles is smoking hot or shun it like the atrocious, nonsensical plague ship of lost careers that it is. But! If you shun it, you will miss things like:
- The ugliest macrame shirt in Creation
- The sex scene most likely to make you turn your face to the wall and refuse to go on out of sheer vicarious embarrassment
- Rubber demon costumes stolen in the night from the set of Legend
- Improbable plot twists involving baby-snatching, demonic incest, multi-million-dollar video game empires, and Jensen Ackles: Antichrist, all of which combine to shear away the plot of the first part of the movie from the plot of the second part like the Titanic splitting in half in its death throes and dragging 88 minutes of your life to a watery grave.
And no one wants to miss out on that, right?
Ackles plays Jake Gray, a wastrel with daddy issues who hangs out with Trashy Blonde Chick (Dominique Swain) and Geeky Loser Guy (Teach Grant), who have actual names in the movie but their characters are so shallow and disposable that they might as well not. On Jake’s birthday, Geeky Loser Guy introduces him to a video game called The Pathway. It’s an online game; playing it requires you to hand a gaming website every piece of information anyone might ever need to steal your identity, loot your house, and rehome your pets, but for some reason people play it anyway instead of laughing hysterically and hitting the “back” button. The game is a sort of “throw Momma from the train” deal – someone calls you and tells you what the Pathway is going to do for you, then calls you back, abuses you for a while, and then tells you what to do for the Pathway.
The Pathway wants Trashy Blonde Chick to have embarrassingly brief and poorly-acted chair sex with Jake. I don’t remember if this was supposed to be a reward or a punishment, or for whom, but it’s pretty punishing for the viewer.
This ends in largely pointless murder-suicides for Trashy Blonde Chick and Geeky Loser Guy. Jake, however, resists, and begins trying to track down what’s going on with the game and how it can be Stopped For The Good of Humanity. In a rather stunning leap of logic, he concludes that the game is actually Satan’s doing. He also decides that Satan is female, apparently working on the logic that Satan = Evil and Women = Evil so Satan = Woman. I once saw Richard Jeni use the same logic to prove that God was Ray Charles.
At any rate, Jake – with the unenthusiastic aid of Shannyn Sossamon as Macrame Shirt Chick – delves into the seamy underside of the video game world, where it intersects with Satanism and playing heavy metal records backward. Talking to some creepy old Satanist (played by Ackles’ father, who is a better actor than he is) leads Jake to the discovery that he’s actually Satan’s son, stolen at birth by his adoptive parents, who were in some sort of militant Christian Antichrist-stealing commando team. Apparently the video game was developed by the Satanists Union in order to find him because he was the only one who would be able to resist its nefarious pull –
No, there you go trying to use logic. Stop it. You’re just going to get all annoyed.
Anyway, the ending is actually not too bad, and by “not too bad” I mean that it actually makes you stop filing your nails and pay attention to the screen for a few minutes. Satan reveals herself; Jake reaches deep into his soul and manages a couple of minutes of almost human emotion; people are force-fed goblets of blood; Satan gets staked, which mostly just annoys her; and the ending sort of sets up for a sequel that please God will never come. After all, Ackles is on a hit TV series now, and probably wants to be paid in something other than Twinkies and Bud Light.
So what’s the verdict? On a 0 to 5 scale, where 0 means “The people responsible for this owe me money and I’m judging them as human beings” and movies accumulate stars according to either their actual goodness or their so-bad-it’s-good-ness, Devour weighs in at a lackluster 1. Plenty of so-bad-it’s-good plot elements, but lacking in that essential bad-movie energy; mostly what it leaves you with is a sort of “Dear god, what is wrong with me that I’m sitting here watching this?” sense of existential bewilderment.
Jensen Ackles is hot, though, I’ll give it that. If he can act then he’s keeping it a well-guarded secret, but he’s nice to look at, and he does “creepy and dysfunctional” pretty well.