Midlands Review - The Devils Familiar
By midlandsmovies, Oct 18 2019 11:53AM
The Devils Familiar
Directed by Kieran 'Ran' Edwards
From Severed Head Entertainment comes The Devil Familiar, a new horror film within the found footage sub genre. Shot on location around Worcestershire, West Midlands, the film follows two filmmakers who want to explore a conspiracy theory that a wild beast has been mauling people in the woods and not the woman who has been convicted of the crimes.
The film starts in a Police C.I.D. meeting room, with a senior officer briefing others about a camcorder that has been found locally in a bad condition. However the tape inside has miraculously been salvaged which he is about to play them. And he warns them that in his 30 years of active duty he hasn't seen anything this brutal and shocking.
Whilst it is evidently clear from the first minute that this film has been made on practically no budget it doesn't deter the director from chilling his audience early doors.
As the discovered tape starts rolling we are quickly introduced to two university students, Elliott (Uriel Davies) and Jake (Kieran Edwards) who are in their final year of studying film and video production. They have been tasked with a final film for their degree which they have chosen to be a documentary about the 2006 Ribbesford Woods Murders, a case in which a man was brutally killed and others mysteriously vanish.
A woman, Sally Edwards, was charged and later convicted of murder - a conviction she denies whilst serving her sentence in a psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Elliott and Jake believe this account to not be true and embark on trying to find fresh evidence for their film. What happened in 2006? Is the local legend of a wild beast to blame or was Sally Edwards a stone cold killer?
In similar fashion to probably the most famous found footage horror film The Blair Witch Project, the film follows the formula of having our protagonists interviewing experts of the case, people who knew the victim and suspect and listening to the rantings of the locals. I have seen some efforts of the found-footage sub genre to be stodgy and uninteresting however to keep these interviews and the first half of the film fresh and alert, Edwards employs the use of switching between colour and black & white in shots, a subtle but necessary element in keeping the audience engaged.
After a secure visit with the convicted Sally Edwards goes haywire, this spurs the two students to double their efforts. They persuade Logan (David Clarke) a zoologist, and Rex (Ross Mooney) the brother of one of the victims to join them in travelling through Ribbesford Woods, to finally see if there is a mythical creature once and for all.
Shot on location throughout Worcestershire, the film enjoys being able to shoot at length in places like Kidderminster Hospital and West Midlands Safari Park. A welcome sight for such a low budget feature as it gives the viewer a real belief in the world that director Kieran Edwards has created.
The Devils Familiar will draw obvious comparisons to the previously mentioned The Blair Witch Project, one being the similarities between plot and characters and the second the way sound is used to evoke terror. Whilst at times the film does appear to be a little too familiar, it definitely feels like more of a love letter than a lazy remake.
Ultimately I think this would of worked better as a short, at a run time of 56 minutes the film becomes a victim of its own aspirations as there was not enough original content embedded in the film to justify its length. However for a zero budget feature this will certainly entertain avid fans of the found footage sub-genre, as you can clearly see the passion from the filmmakers spread across every shot.