New Horror Releases: The Devil's Well (2018) - Reviewed

Kurtis Spieler’s The Devil’s Well follows the disturbing disappearance of paranormal investigator Karla Marks. Karla, played by Anne-Marie Mueschke, is in the process of building both an official website and fan-base for her paranormal investigatory team, consisting of herself and her husband Bryan, played by Bryan Manley Davis. Their investigations lead them to a supernatural phenomenon located in Connecticut, known as the Devil’s Well. The well is believed by some of the locals, as well as several other paranormal investigators, to be an actual portal to hell. During their exploratory adventure, Karla’s camera mysteriously stops working, prompting Bryan to leave the dark, dank basement that occupies the well and head to the car to retrieve additional equipment. Upon his return to the well, he finds no trace of his wife. 

The majority of the film revolves around the police investigation into Karla’s disappearance. Inevitably, her husband, being the last person to see her, ends up being blamed for her disappearance, though there is little to no evidence that suggests that he had something to do with it. In a frenzy to both find his wife and prove his innocence, Bryan enlists a group of paranormal investigators known as S.I.G.N.S. to go back to the well with him and search for more clues in Karla’s disappearance. 

The police interviews with the cast may be the most believable and interesting portion of the film. The actors do well with their portrayal of Karla’s friends and family and Bryan Manley Davis definitely plays his part of desperate, grieving husband well. The members of the S.I.G.N.S. group are a mixture of likable characters that do an excellent job conveying both their interest in the case and finding out what truly happened to Karla, as well as showcasing their evident mistrust of Bryan. 

Though I believe the cast to be the only real saving grace of this film, unfortunately, they were not enough to truly give The Devil’s Well a leg to stand on. The film is cliché, predictable and slow moving. You wait nearly an hour for the film to pick up some steam, and when you get to what is intended to be the climax, it is both disappointing and over the top. When the premise of the film and the disappearance of Karla Marx is finally explained, it is, quite frankly, laughable. Though, I too, find the teenager worshiping the devil in his parents’ basement while listening to Slayer and taking makeup tips from Alice Cooper terrifying, it’s not terrifying in the way I expect a horror film to be. There are no truly memorable frightening moments throughout the film and the effort it occasionally makes for jump scares are scarce. I want to believe that a found footage film can be made to both be unique and really frightening, but once again, one of its kind has missed the mark. Though the documentary style of the beginning of the film felt authentic, the rushed, pointless and downright cheesy ending made the movie a failure, in my opinion. The Devil’s Well had an opportunity to be both interesting and scary, it is unfortunate that the filmmakers seemed to put more work into the documentary style interviews of the film than they did in the actual plot. 

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-Rachel Rutherford