The Underdogs Ain’t Winning – Bedeviled (2017)

“Bedeviled” is a typical B-horror type of entertainment, so know what you sign up for.

Imagine a team of underdogs, participating in any kind of contest. For highly ambiguous and unclear reasons, you feel at home with their presence. The tournament begins, your underdogs fail miserably. And although everyone would say “didn’t I say so?”, you sit in turmoil and ask yourself why did you support them. Here’s exactly how I felt after viewing “Bedeviled”.

This horror flick checks several boxes at once – there is a group of teenagers, there is a mobile app that sprays havoc around and a murderous countdown that leads to a gruesome mystery. The terrifying chain of events is triggered when a random girl allegedly commits suicide. Soon after that happens, her friends receive invites to an app called “Mr.Bedeviled”. The app seems to be too groundbreaking to be real and soon it reveals its true “software”.

As stated in the beginning, I really wanted to like “Bedeviled”. I believe that even though there is already a plethora of horrors about killing apps – “Unfriended”, “The Den”, “App” or “Friend Request” to name a few – there is a lot of free space in that area. Furthermore, “Bedeviled” came up with something actually interesting – what if an app was not a weird malware that you find repeatedly in your trash folder, but actually a sort of digital companion, ideal to kill time in a bus for example? Such premise could explore really disturbing places. It could be a look at how isolated we become because of mobile slavery or come up with some sort of a crazy story of a possession. It could be a genuinely smart approach to the technology-addiction we face nowadays. Unfortunately, none of that happened.

It didn’t, because the creators of “Bedeviled” – Abel and Burlee Vang – never aimed to juxtapose the horror cliché with a real-life problem. Their film is painfully safe in execution, and whilst being so, it also becomes a travesty of what it could be. The main problem lies in the film’s structure. The Vang Brothers obviously loved Stephen King’s “It” – their killing entity also feeds on fear and transforms itself into what we fear the most, just like Pennywise from the famous novel. It ain’t particularly original in “Bedeviled”, but using an app and its stunning features (like having a witty conversation with its user) – it could be a jackpot. What’s more, Mr. Bedeviled himself could secure the success – he is a creepy mixture of the Babadook and Pennywise, a kind of symbol that the LGBT community dresses in a rainbow nowadays (hope you get the reference…). The clothing, the long fingers, the rotten teeth and sinister laugh – Mr.Bedeviled possess all the features that a horror icon requires.

Unfortunately, the Vangs have no idea how to pull the strings of this notorious puppet. In the end, Mr.Bedeviled and all of his equally scary minions meet with below-B-list actors, who seem pretty unmoved by their presence. This is obviously caused by their own lack of craftsmanship. I never thought that I’d miss the screaming and sobbing teenagers from films like “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”. Hence, the worst nightmare is not the concept of the app or the entity itself – it’s the script. The woeful dialogues are extremely artificial and the actors are visibly uncomfortable with them too. You can’t be serious about your cast if a guy asks his girlfriend where is she going right after having sex and her response is “taking a shit, what you thought?”.

Somewhere, in all that misery, one of the characters possessed by Mr. Bedeviled, says “I can’t even tell the difference between a duck face and an asshole!”. Well, I feel lucky for two reasons. One is that I never encountered such a dilemma. And second is that – a paraphrasing the quote – I can spot the difference between a scary film and “scary movie”.

bedeviled poster cultural haterBedeviled (2017)

Dir. Abel Vang & Burlee Vang

Cast: You won’t see them anywhere else…

Hate Grade: 6/10

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