Streaming Releases: An Idle Mind is the Devil’s Playground (2016) - Reviewed

A reclusive old man wakes up to find the people who have been occupying his dreams are now a part of his living nightmare. No, this is not an episode of The Twilight Zone but rather Michael Jason Allen’s 2016 thriller An Idle Mind is the Devil’s Playground. Ben Lokey stars as Sid Kottler, a masterful composer with a fear of human interaction. After having a dream regarding a political figure from Sid’s past jumping to his death, he awakens to that very man standing at the foot of his bed and with no desire to leave. Soon with every dream Sid has he finds himself hosting a party of uninvited ghosts from his past. 

Shot in sultry black and white, An Idle Mind is the Devil’s Playground feels like a charming homage to the classic 1960’s series. Hints of Hitchcock and Vincent Price throughout the film also seem like apparent influences to writer/director Michael Jason Allen as he approaches Idle Mind tactfully with an eerie atmosphere. Unlike The Twilight Zone however, the film suffers from a lack of simplistic story telling making it feel about a half an hour longer than it should be. 

Amongst a rather bloated plot and unnecessary characters, An Idle Mind is the Devil’s Playground does have a couple of very notable saving graces. Ben Lokey is cast perfectly in the lead role. With an appearance that yells “get off my lawn”, Lokey’s Sid Kottler looks like he might call anyone under the age of 40 a punk. He feels genuine as the lead and would fit perfectly in any classic episode of The Twilight Zone. Michael Jason Allen also inserts some rather trippy dream sequences for the ghosts that make for some truly memorable scenes. But perhaps the best part of Idle Mind is Kip Rosser’s original score. The use of the theramin throughout the film enhances the scenes beautifully and tips the movie off as being as eerie and creepy as it intends to be. It is the perfect accent to this 60’s horror throwback. The score alone makes the movie worth a watch. 

An Idle Mind is the Devil’s Playground is an unequivocal love letter to Rod Sterling made with the best of intentions but unfortunately falls short in execution. Much like a Twilight Zone episode, the film could have been more effective had it been condensed to a thirty minute runtime by eliminating some of the less interesting characters and focusing solely on Sid Kottler. Much like the ghosts in the film, An Idle Mind is the Devil’s Playground overstays it's welcome. 

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-Holly Glinski