Devil's Gate Blu-ray Review
Written by ZigZag
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Directed by Clay Staub
Written by Peter Aperlo and Clay Staub
2017, 94 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on June 5th, 2018
Milo Ventimiglia as Jackson Pritchard
Amanda Schull as Special Agent Francis
Shawn Ashmore as Deputy Colt Salter
Jonathan Frakes as Sheriff Gruenwell
Bridget Regan as Maria Pritchard
Spencer Drever as Jonah
FBI Special Agent Daria Francis is assigned to a missing persons case in the small town of Devil’s Gate, North Dakota. A woman and her young son have disappeared and the local sheriff needs answers. Agent Francis suspects the husband, Jackson Pritchard, and plans to interview him. She partners with local deputy Colt Salter in hopes of bringing things to a swift and peaceful resolution. Upon arriving at Pritchard’s farm, it is immediately obvious that things are not as they seem. It is here that the film switches gears and becomes something totally unexpected, so I will leave my synopsis short so as not to ruin any of the well-earned surprises.
Clay Staub makes his directorial debut with Devil’s Gate, a thoughtful science fiction thriller full of unique twists and turns that will keep audiences’ attention throughout. The film is deliberately paced, but the plot unfolds at a decent clip and keeps things interesting. Working from a script he co-wrote with Peter Aperlo, Staub plays his cards pretty close to the vest and prevents things from growing stale or predictable. Cinematographer Miroslaw Baszak (Land of the Dead) lights the farmhouse and the surrounding land in a bleak style that creates the right atmosphere for this story. The shadow play in the basement sequences is quite beautiful at times and his lighting of the special make-up effects is spot on.
Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes) stars as Jackson Pritchard, a deeply religious man who is fighting for what is his. He comes upon some hard truths that affect generations of his family, but refuses to give up. Ventimiglia is excellent in the role of a grieving husband barely keeping it together as things continue to grow stranger by the hour. He is equally sympathetic and dangerous as he becomes more desperate in his cause. Amanda Schull (Suits) is rock solid as Agent Francis, determined to see the missing wife and son brought back home safely. She is frequently the voice of reason, able to not simply act on emotion, unlike her partner Deputy Salter, played by Shawn Ashmore (Frozen). Ashmore is the character most of the audience will relate to, as he is in over his head and trying to remain calm. He is instantly likeable in the role and shares great onscreen chemistry with Schull. Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: The Next Generation) turns in a strong supporting role as the good-natured Sheriff Gruenwell. He doesn’t get a lot of screen time but makes the most of the scenes he is in.
Devil’s Gate is a decent flick that sneaks up on you. There are some great practical special effects on display and the visual effects are also convincing. Before receiving this disc for review, I had never heard of this movie or seen a trailer. I am glad to have gone in blind with zero expectations, as Staub really delivers a solid story with strong performances.
Video and Audio:
Presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, the picture looks terrific. Colors are deliberately muted, black levels are bottomless and flesh tones appear natural throughout. There is plenty of small object detail in clothing and hair.
Audio options come in either DTS-HD MA 5.1 or DTS-HD MA 2.0 mixes, both are impressive options. The expanded mix offers a bit more play in the rear channels during the effects sequences and features a bit more bass too.
Optional English and Spanish subtitles are included for anyone in need.
Sadly, the only special feature on this disc is the film’s theatrical trailer.