The Devil’s Familiar is a found footage horror film in the vein of The Blair Witch Project. Written and directed by Kieran Edwards and starring the talents of Uriel Davies (Elliot Mooney), Kieran Edwards, (Jake Macintyre), Ross Mooney (Rex), and David Clarke (Logan), The Devil’s Familiar follows a pair of student filmmakers on a project to prove or disprove the existence of a local Cryptozoic creature that may or may not have been responsible for a string of gruesome murders.
Shot almost entirely in Kidderminster, England, The Devil’s Familiar boasts some gorgeous set locations and breath-taking scenery, which makes for a pleasant watch. The film was made on what was obviously a low-to-no budget, which is pretty common for indie films in this genre. This is most noticeable when it came to the calibre of the actors involved. While some were seasoned with at least a little screen time in their past, others were not up to par.
What did come across as a plus was the fantastic sound editing. It was really atmospheric and very clean, making me turn my head as screams and growls came from all angles. The editing, too, was outstanding and the film is well-paced with a decent runtime. It has a good flow, starting with a documentary-style which morphs into some conspiracy footage and eventually the harrowing hunt through the woods.
The Devil’s Familiar definitely takes found footage down a well-walked path. The film is very safe, sometimes too much so, with the tropes all too…familiar. As Edward’s first foray into found footage, I can understand the decision to boldly go where everyone has gone before but I would have liked to have had the old proverbial envelope nudged just a little bit more. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” I guess.
Uriel Davies gives a solid performance in the lead role and is the backbone of the film. The supporting cast, as mentioned earlier, is a bit of a hit-and-miss but Davies’ Elliot is both likeable and watchable; his common sense and wit providing the tension in the latter half of the film and the bits of comic relief in the former. A sound, enjoyable performance.
Director Kieran Edwards was very clever with his use of the film’s creature. Revealing the monster too early is always a mistake and Edwards waits patiently before giving his beast any real screen time. The film’s tension builds through its lore and once the big bad is finally revealed, it is done more through gore and shadow. Budget restrictions obviously had a say in the way the monster is dealt with in the film, but I liked the use of shadows, blood, and obfuscation rather than a full-frontal “man in a cheap suit.” It helped to keep the whole suspension of disbelief going instead of some cheap, eye-rolling CGI.
Overall, I enjoyed the experience. This is a lower-budget film but also clearly a passion project that got all the attention that it needed. The plot is far from original and doesn’t bring much new to the genre but it is a well-made homage to the films that clearly inspired it. Edwards is definitely a filmmaker with an eye for details and mind for monsters and gore. I look forward to what he brings us in the future, especially if he continues with the creature features. The film will be released later this year through Darkside Releasing but the release date has yet to be determined. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. Trailer and poster below.
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