"The Devil’s Heist"
review by Diablo Joe
The Devil’s Heist
One of the great things about genre pictures, and especially horror, in particular, is the chance for first-time and low budget filmmakers to express their creativity. Despite limitations of finance or experience, they still have an opportunity to find an appreciative audience. Deliver the thrill and the scares, and horror fans are often generous in accepting the warts and speedbumps they encounter along the way. But not always.
“The Devil’s Heist” has a bonkers, batshit crazy premise. Unrepentant felon Ted, just out of the joint, decides to rob a bank with the help of bubby Mike and Mike’s girlfriend, Cathy. But this bank is one run by witches, and the money they stole is the infernal-life savings of none other than Lucifer himself. It’s a great concept, but unfortunately, director Fer Acevado and Co. fail to deliver on its promise. Working from a kitchen-sink script by Sophia Louisa and actor Brian Sapphire (Ted), and story by Sandra Rosko (also pulling double duty as witch-twins Victoria/Alexa), Acevedo’s picture should be all mayhem and rock and roll. Instead, it’s a confusing morass and, worst of all, dull.
Obviously made on a shoestring, the budget is not the problem, and the filmmakers and most of the cast seem eager. There’s probably a reasonably fun and enjoyable short film in there, but “The Devil’s Heist” is too long. Shots go on forever, and subplots bog the movie down. Lucifer’s jealous wife Lilith, Victoria’s fascination with Ted as the man of her dreams, the theft of a mystical amulet, the evil twin sisters, and the demon “Stone Cutters” are given portentous gravity but never fully explored. Apparently, no idea was jettisoned in the service of pacing or tightening the script. The filmmakers make sure to tick off some of the classic exploitation must-have boxes. Bloody kill? Check. Gratuitous nudity? Check. Lascivious lesbians? Check. But none of this is done with enough boldness or flair to make it interesting.
It doesn’t help that our witches, Victoria, her aunt Charlotte, and coworker Rose, spend much of the picture standing about a scrying mirror pool, watching and casting spell after spell in the larcenous trio’s direction. And watching. And casting. It’s a static situation that’s not helped a bit by seeing much of the film's action immediately replayed in the pool's reflections. As for our thieves themselves, they encounter obstacle after obstacle, from a bounty hunter to a roadside whorehouse, to a place called The Wastelands, the three bitch and in-fight all along the way. Sapphire’s Ted, in particular, is just not someone with which we want to spend time. Perhaps meant to be menacing and dangerous, he’s just cranky and annoying.
It would have been a delight if the film had stuck more with Mike Ferguson’s gruff, tattoo-covered Lucifer. He’s bigger than life, wonderfully perverse, and so much fun. Ferguson is having a grand time in the role, and the film lights up with hellfire when he’s onscreen. Unfortunately, he’s introduced early and then spends much of the movie out of the picture, robbing it of some much-needed malevolence and spark.
“The Devil’s Heist” just never rocks. Even its music, which consists mainly of two short themes repeated endlessly, fails to raise the blood pressure. Our trio gets a bass-driven blues straight out of a truck commercial, and our witches receive a moody piano signature reminiscent of the Diablo game soundtrack.
“The Devil’s Heist” isn’t enjoyable enough to be good, but not bad enough either. It’s a victim of excess and bloat that, if it had just cut loose and been as crazy as its concept, might have worked. Again, it would be interesting to see the film recut into a much shorter movie. The filmmakers seemed to have wanted this to be fun, but, as the saying goes, “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” For this one, the trip never quite got out of the ditch.
This devil of a reviewer gives “The Devil’s Heist” 2 out of 3 imps