The Devil's Doorway (2018)

In theaters: The Devil’s Doorway (2018)

In Aislinn Clarke’s The Devil’s Doorway (2018), two priests investigating claims of a miracle find evidence instead of diabolical influence.

The Devil's Doorway (2018)
The Devil’s Doorway (2018)

It’s another film to add to the pile, or maybe the dustbin, of found-footage horror. But the story takes place in 1960, so the footage was found in glorious 16mm. Then again, so were parts of The Blair Witch Project (1999). The wicker props, handprints, and third-act confession from The Blair Witch Project are also present here, along with all the works of the devil that we never actually saw in that movie. This one insists upon showing us everything, in full view, every other scene, and all of it is turned up to 11, except for the reactions of the priests, who don’t seem even that professionally interested to have documented proof of supernatural agency.

Given the number of objects flying around, it strains credibility for the skeptical priest (Lalor Roddy) to remain a skeptic for as long as he does. And his true-believing partner (Ciaran Flynn) ought to be more reactive to multiple direct encounters and interactions with unambiguous spectral phenomena. Add to this that the film’s only subplot, some sort of family-of-origin issue, ends up meaning precisely nothing, and you see what kind of a fix we’re in. Yet strangely, in the third act, the movie sorts itself out, just in time for the climactic set piece and a competent, if not entirely satisfying, finish.

In its best moments, this movie brings the claustrophobia hard, with an overwhelming sense of malevolence and scares that come at you from all over the sound field (thus cheating a little on the single-mic conceit). But it takes too long to get there, and it doesn’t stay for long.