What do you get when two former Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers decide to write and direct their own horror movie? You get a turgid mess of a film, with zero consistency, even less logic, inexplicable martial arts scenes, undercranking and wirework, and sound effects that are so loud, they actually distort at times.
“Devin’s Ghost: Legend of the Bloody Boy” is the story of a group of 25 year old actors playing high school students (“They’re all underage!” cries the school superintendent at one point). When a serial killer begins picking them off, locals blame it on the ghost of a boy who was murdered by his parents ten years prior.
At first, I was ecstatic: The film impresses with production values that remain pretty high throughout for an independent feature, but it quickly deteriorates. During one character developing moment, two high school students, who are doing classwork in pen, begin using black magic markers to write notes to each other. Why? To make them easier to read on the screen, of course! Clever, but not really conducive to suspension of disbelief.
The acting, dialogue and editing are uneven at best and, at worst, just plain horrible. “I refuse to let a bloody boy haunt me in my high school years,” says one blonde cheerleader. Sure.
The killer could have been something special. Effort was certainly put into creating an original, new horror icon, but each time we see him, there’s a revelatory flashback into his past to help explain his actions. Because we see pretty much the same flashback three times in the first 15 minutes, the film has very little left to show us after that. What a shame; the backstory, if properly revealed, could have been pretty interesting. It’s also difficult to be scared when the murders are so completely obvious, and when people who are hit in the back consistently have blood fly forward from the front of the body.
An effort was made to tell an original variation on a stale theme, and I can appreciate that, but the execution is so inept that there’s simply not a point where it stops getting bad. I don’t mean it’s consistently bad; I mean the longer it goes on, the more ludicrous it gets. If this had been given a theatrical release, it could have had a long life as a classic cult film. For example, an extended sequence between main character Symphony (other names are Goddess, Freedom and Genesis, yet this is a serious movie) and the killer is so laughably bad, I wondered if anyone responsible had ever even watched horror films before. If so, they didn’t learn anything; every overused cliché in the book is contained in this one scene. If I didn’t have to watch the rest of the film, I would have shut it off and blinded myself for having seen it. But, knowing my responsibilities to you, the Munching Motionless HorrorWatchers, I took a deep breath, and pressed “play” again.
The pop soundtrack is frequently so loud and distracting that dialogue can barely be heard above it, but kudos must be given to composer Cody Westheimer. His symphonic score, when it appears, is such a rare delight (and completely worthy of any theatrical film in wide release) that I’m actually recommending people rent this film just to hear his music. With any luck, we’ll be seeing (and hearing) great things from him in the future.
Also emerging relatively unscathed are Jonathan Cruz, who could actually have a bright acting career ahead of him, and Aleisha Force (what a great name!), who brings to mind the stoicism and grace of Diane Lane.
I wish directors Johnny Yong Bosch and Koichi Sakamoto the best of luck. It’s obvious that they really tried hard to make this film special. The fault however, ultimately lies in a script that is one of the most preposterous I have ever seen executed on the screen. This is one bloody boy who should have stayed dead.
Pros: One brief discussion in a school corridor about who usually dies in horror films. Cody Westheimer’s amazing score (remember that name!).
Cons: It actually keeps getting more and more ridiculous, moment by moment. And never recovers.
Review Rating: 0.5 out of 5 times I really wanted to keep watching all the way to the end. I should have gotten paid for this one.
“Devon’s Ghost: Legend of the Bloody Boy” (2005)
90 Minutes; USA
Rated R for bloody violence throughout, language, some drug material and sexual content.
Karan Ashley (Symphony)
Johnny Yong Bosch (Josh)
Jonathan Cruz (Craig)
Aleisha Force (Joy Walker)
Matt Moore (Freedom)
Kristy Vaughan (Genesis)
Directed by: Johnny Yong Bosch and Koichi Sakamoto
Written by: Karan Ashley, Ron Day and Tim Grace
Viewing Format: DVD
(Originally published on HorrorWatch)