Devil’s Domain is about Lisa Pomson. Lisa is a troubled, social media obsessed teen who clashes with her parents on just about everything. When Lisa is secretly filmed performing a sex act, cyber bullies release the video, and Lisa is viciously attached online. Suicidal and on the brink of insanity, Lisa is approached by a beautiful, mysterious stranger. As they grow closer, the stranger offers to help her out of her predicament in exchange for a favour.
Devil’s Domain is out now on Video On Demand. It will be released on Blu-Ray in two weeks time, the 17th of July. Written and directed by Jared Cohn (The Horde, Hold Your Breath) it deals with a very modern and real subject, in a horrific and fantastical way. That subject is bullying. The very real ways in which human beings attempt to force pain and misery on to other human beings purely because they can.
We meet Lisa, played by Madi Vodane (her first acting credit). She is hanging out with her best friend, Rhonda, played by Brenna Tucker (When the Fever Breaks). Lisa misreads the friendship and makes a move on her pal only to be rebuked. Rhonda disappears in horror leaving Lisa feeling low, confused and concerned. Quickly we move to Lisa, at school, now the victim of bullying. Rhonda has new friends and has obviously told the whole school what happened so Lisa spends the day with labels like ‘lesbian” and “dyke” being chucked at her.
We see more instances of hate being displayed at the school too as a guy called Brandon played by Andy Rappos (Disposable Teens) get’s bullied by a jock for being gay. Back to Lisa though now who is feeling pretty terrible. She is visibly suffering, feels inferior and as time progresses develops bulimia. You can’t help but feel sorry for the poor girl but worse is yet to come.
Another of her old friends – Andrew played by Zack Kozlow (Black Coffee) – comes round to check on her but Lisa is, at first suspicious of him. She wonders why he is there now when he hasn’t been around for years. She was right to be suspicious because Andrew is scum. He sneakily sets up a couple spy cameras in Lisa’s room. Andrew than hooks up with the rest of the gang of bullies to watch the camera feeds for “a laugh”. The bullies manage to get footage of Lisa wolfing down food and then making herself sick. They also manage to get footage of her masturbating.
Andrew shows a tiny glimpse of regret before they all decide, nah “fuck it”. They publish the footage on the internet for everyone to see. Lisa arrives at school the next day to a hellish reception. She is in shock. She turns and runs as fast as she can back to the relative safety of her home. With the video now public, her stepdad Bill, played by Michael Madsen (The Hateful Eight, Reservoir Dogs), tries to help her out with some advice. He seems decent but Lisa is beyond it now though. Her mother Carol, played by Kelly Erin Decker (Phoh, A Splitting of Mental Functions), overreacts and blames Lisa. This just pushes her further into depression and drives home the very real belief that she is all alone.
We see Lisa self harming and seriously contemplating ending it all as her parents decide she needs professional help. As Lisa trawls through her online hate messages, she gets contacted by someone called Destiny, played by Linda Bella (Filth to Ashes, Flesh to Dust). With Lisa at her lowest and most vulnerable, she is enthralled by Destiny simply because she is being nice to her. Lisa heads over to Destiny’s place (very trusting for someone who has been betrayed at every turn so far). Destiny is sexy and sultry and Lisa is mesmerised. Destiny also reveals herself to be the devil. Yep, that was some jump.
Destiny/Satan/The Lady of Evil wants to help Lisa. She wants to punish those who have hurt her and wants to protect her. After all, she is in the Devil’s Domain now. Lisa has to agree to it and, in return, agree to a favour the devil requires from her. Cue a sex scene between Destiny and Lisa which sees Lisa truly besotted with her new friend and, with her thoroughly seduced, she agrees to the deal. Destiny warns her their is no reneging on the deal. If she does, untold pain and punishment will be reaped on all she cares about. No matter how messy things get, she must see it through.
The agreement sets Destiny and an increasingly reluctant Lisa on a violent and bloody quest to deal with all who have hurt her. As the “punishments” get more brutal, Lisa regrets her decision but is it too late?
Devil’s Domain has a simple enough premise – girl gets bullied, makes deal with the devil, gets revenge. It feels a bit like a film of two halves. One being a careful and thought provoking view on young people, bullying and how social media and the internet has elevated that to extremes on one side. On the other we have a quite tongue in cheek gorefest. Two good halves, yes, but they don’t necessarily slot together perfectly. Lisa is an extremely likeable character and her story is deep and hard hitting. I think Madi Vodane did a wonderful job of portraying a truly believable spiral into the depths of despair. She is a talented actress.
There were some good supporting characters like Michael Madsen’s Bill and Andy Rappos’ Brandon but there were also some terribly wooden ones too. Some of the bit part characters that jump in for a line here and there, like the teachers or a few of the high school kids, sounded terrible. Like they were reading it for the first time ever. I am not overly sold on Linda Bella’s performance as the devil. I found her performance to be slow and stuttered. Maybe that was purposely done, she isn’t human after all.
The soundtrack is big and blazing with artists like Iggy Pop, DMX and The Onyx all getting a blast. Not really my cup of tea but it suited the film. In regards to horror, you get a shed load of psychological horror from the bullying but also buckets of gore from the revenge killings. There are some pretty horrific scenes. We go from someone being burned to death, to a rape scene and on to an old school torture scene where limbs get separated from body.
Devil’s Domain can be a little odd to watch. The bullying to devil happens quick and is bit of a “what the fuck” moment but it is an enjoyable watch. Plenty of death and gore on top of a strong and potent message around the dangers of bullying and the lengths people will go to for popularity. Check it out!
The Final Score - 7/10