'Devil's Domain': Film Review

Courtesy of Cleopatra Films
Even the title feels familiar.

The devil is a woman in Jared Cohn's teen-oriented horror film.

Satan would find a lot more willing customers if it always appeared in the guise of the hottie villain featured in Jared Cohn’s grungy horror film. Played by Linda Bella, this demon who goes by the name of Destiny wears a slinky red dress showing off a killer body. Even when her face occasionally morphs into a truly grotesque visage, she’s still alluring. The character turns out to be the best thing about Devil’s Domain, which attempts to elevate its familiar genre tropes by throwing in moralizing lessons about online bullying, among other things.

The story revolves around troubled teenager Lisa (Madi Vodane), who when first seen is forcing herself to puke into a toilet. It turns out that bulimia is but one of her problems, which also include cutting herself. She’s become a pariah at her high school after her attraction to other girls becomes evident, and her male best friend betrays her by secretly planting cameras in her bedroom and bathroom that result in deeply embarrassing videos being posted online.

Lisa’s unlikely savior turns out to be Destiny, who soon outs herself as “the most badass bitch in the universe.” Destiny vows to take revenge on Lisa’s tormentors and proceeds to fulfill her promise by dispatching them in the sort of inventively gory ways that reveal an extensive study of torture porn films. She also indulges Lisa’s sapphic tendencies by introducing her to erotic pleasures with a gallery of lingerie-clad, gorgeous women. “Being bad has its perks,” Destiny points out, rather unnecessarily.

Sadly, the perks don’t apply for viewers of this generic horror movie featuring a skeletal plot, barely developed characters, recycled clichés, and subpar special effects. The repetitive storyline which culminates in a Rosemary’s Baby-inspired capper seems designed for undiscerning teen audiences who won’t recognize its myriad influences. And the straining for seriousness via such plot elements as the teens harassing a “she-male” in their midst—they don’t seem to have quite grasped what the term means—merely comes across as labored.

Still, the film has its sporadic pleasures, mostly provided by Bella, who effectively conveys Destiny’s enjoyment of her over-the-top murderous and sexy antics, and Michael Madsen, as Lisa’s supportive stepdad. The veteran actor delivers a nicely low-key performance, but you can’t avoid the feeling that he’s merely cashing a paycheck while waiting for Quentin Tarantino to write him another great role.

Production: Cleopatra Films, Cleopatra Records
Distributor: The Orchard
Cast: Michael Madsen, Madi Vodane, Linda Bella, Zack Kozlow, Kelly Erin Decker, Brenna Tucker
Director/screenwriter: Jared Cohn
Producers: Kelly Erin Decker, David S. Sterling
Executive producer: Brian Perera
Director of photography: Josh Maas
Production designer: Brenton Berna
Editor: Rob Pallatina
93 min.