Film Review: The Devil’s Business

The Devil’s Business is an uneven low-budget horror that is atmospheric in places, but ultimately fails to bring the scares when they are needed most.

Veteran hitman Mr Pinner is tasked with a job alongside rookie Cully. The pair are given the job of taking out Kist. Waiting for him to return home from the opera, the straightforward hit does not go according to plan when Pinner and Cully are disturbed…

The Devil’s Business has a good first half, but things start to go awry after this point. The story that is told by Mr Pinner in the first half of the film is genuinely absorbing. It leaves viewers on a hook that sadly the film does not capitalise on this sense of mystery and apprehension. Moreover, the characters are not as well formed as they could be. Given that there are only three main characters, these could have been developed more. Mr Pinner’s motivations seem rather questionable; the character changes too much over the brief duration of the film.

It is a shame that the film has to go all out overblown in the final third, as it had kept an element of reservation up until this point. This works more effectively in terms of generating tension than the visceral climax. The premise of The Devil’s Business is functions suitably to allow elements of horror to come into play. The apprehension built by the first half of the film does not translate into chills however. It is disappointing that director and writer Sean Hogan cannot harness the sense of mystery and tension and turn it into something that retains the fear.

The sound works well throughout the film. The ticking clock in particular is successful in emphasising the closed space and quietness of the surroundings. The camera work is less effective. There is too much shaky camera in the final third of the film. Rather than creating the disorientating effect presumably aimed for, this gets irritating.

The Devil’s Business has some good, redeeming qualities. But as a horror film, it does not chill viewers quite the way it should.