Once more, across the northern hemisphere, leaves fall from trees to be crunched underfoot, masks by the Silver Shamrock corporation stare from store windows and oatmeal-faced zombies prowl the streets. Cornfields turn into mazes along haunted highways while costumed kids take candy from suspicious strangers. And, here at the Bureau, we begin our annual countdown of creepy films. We’ll review the famous and familiar and, certainly, some newly unleashed horrors, a couple of old-time scares and (perhaps) unfamiliar finds.

Our October Countdown appears at the end of this review.

First up: every town has that house, that haunted place where something horrific happened. Where I live, it can be found a fifteen minute walk away. That house. We all know the horror that happened there, even if we dare not talk about it. The shooting—the principal shooting for this 2012 straight-to-video, straight-to-download horror hit….

Title: Devil Seed

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Directed by Greg A. Sager
Written by Greg A. Sager and Geoff Hart

Michelle Argyris as Alex
Shantelle Canzanese as Jessica
Vanessa Brose as Breanne
Kevin as Brian
Wayne Conroy as Professor Madison
Michael H. Wilmot as Father Madison
Colin Smith as 1970 Priest
Louise Hollingsworth as Fortune Teller
Angelina Mueller-Lavictoire as Creepy Little Girl

Full Cast and Crew information is available at the imdb.

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Also available from Amazon.

Premise:

Aspiring filmmakers rip off every successful horror movie of the last fifty years or so in the tale of some college girls who move into a home connected to a demonic possession.

High Points:

1. The effects work well, and the couple of creepily-sexualized horror scenes prove at least unsettling. These include the second assault and the awakening of Jessica.

2. You could build a pretty good gothic trivia game around this movie. A player scores a point each time he or she is the first to identify which famous horror movie any given scene is ripping off.

Low Point:

The writers and director have obviously made a study of horror movies, and they know which scenes scare people and how to (re)construct them. They show less understanding of how the broader context of those scenes informs them, makes them scarier, or invests them with a greater purpose or meaning.

The Scores:

Originality: 0/6. Dear Dark Lords of Chaos! This is The Exorcist meets Rosemary’s Baby, using a cast more typical of those films where attractive young women get horrifically misused. Beyond the dominant influences, they’ve filled the movie with bits swiped from Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Psycho, The Entity, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and The Ring.

Effects: 5/6 Limited, but surprisingly strong.

Production: 4/6 The film looks good, especially considering its very low budget.

Acting: 3/6 The acting ranges from fairly strong to downright awful, but even the better performers had to struggle playing these depth-challenged characters.

And the creepy little girl. Creepy little girl is creepy.

Story: 4/6 Despite missed opportunities (what happens to the boyfriend after the assault?), it holds together as your basic tale of demonic possession.

Emotional Response: 2/6 This might be scarier if you’ve seen very few horror movies. The characters did not engage me, and the scares were not original. If this film hadn’t been shot locally, I still would have watched to the end, but with even less enthusiasm.

Overall: 3/6. A conundrum: they’ve set the film in Boston. Save for two establishing shots taken in the United States, however, the entire film was made in a certain city in Ontario, Canada, one that bears very little resemblance to Boston. Why bother saying it’s Boston? Would anyone care? Does the straight-to-download audience even know in advance where this is set? Will it improve word-of-mouth if it has a supposed real American location (mentioned once), instead of taking place in some unspecified college town? Seems to me it might be even scarier if viewers could imagine the story taking place in their own town.

Of course, for some of us, it did.

In total, Devil Seed receives 21/42.

This year’s October Countdown:

Oct. 6: Devil Seed (2012)
Oct. 13: Frankenweenie (1984 and 2012 versions!)
Oct. 20: Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000)
Oct. 27: Sinister (2012)
Oct. 31: Ghost Story (1981– plus a review of the original novel)