Tuesday 7 March 2023

REVIEW: The Devil Conspiracy (2023) - Starring Alice Orr-Ewing, Joe Doyle, Eveline Hall, Peter Mensah, Joe Anderson, Spencer Wilding, Brian Caspe and James Faulkner

Review by Jon Donnis:
It feels like ages since I have seen a good biblical-based supernatural film, so when The Devil Conspiracy came across my desk, I was optimistic. It really does seem to tick all the boxes of a good supernatural type film. We have priests, we have angels, we have possessions, we even have the devil! What more could you ask for?

At the dawn of creation, Lucifer (Joe Anderson) leads a rebellion of angels against God. The war ends with God casting Lucifer and his followers down to the depths of Hell. Michael (Peter Mensah), the Archangel of Justice, is sent to Hell to imprison his brother forever. However, Lucifer pleads with Michael to join him, but Michael refuses and departs.

In the present day, the world is abuzz with the exhibition of the Shroud of Turin. Lauren Milton (Alice Orr-Ewing), a student working on a thesis about good and evil, gains access to the exhibition with the help of her friend, Father Marconi (Joe Doyle). Marconi tells Lauren about the battle of angels, depicting a statue of Michael defeating Lucifer. Although Lauren is skeptical, she stays to draw images of the artwork.

Meanwhile, Dr. Laurent (Brian Caspe) showcases his biotech firm's research in genetic cloning to investors, claiming that they can bring back geniuses like Michelangelo and DaVinci. However, the company is actually a cult that seeks to release Lucifer and his demons from Hell to avenge the rebellion. The cult's leader, Liz (Eveline Hall), sneaks into the exhibition and kills a guard to disable the security system. Marconi tries to stop her, but Liz stabs him in the chest. She takes the Shroud, and her men capture Lauren. Before Marconi dies, he asks Michael to use his body to stop Liz. Michael possesses Marconi's body and leaves the city.

Michael is held at gunpoint by a scholar who reveals the prophecy of a wicked woman and a beast of the Earth who will bring forth Lucifer's vessel. Michael realizes that the Shroud was stolen to clone a body for Lucifer, using the DNA of Jesus Christ to bring about the End of the World. A tremor breaks the rock sealing Lucifer, and he frees himself from his chains.

What follows is a rather decent film. Ok, some of the visual effects are a bit dodgy, and a lot of the film is deliberately filmed in the dark to help cover up budget restraints, but what they did film in the daytime uses some great locations and scenery. All the main characters play their parts well. Peter Mensah as Michael is a great choice, and I almost feel like Mensah is always playing these types of characters, but a quick look at his bio shows that this is the first time, he really looks the part as some kind of angelic being. Alice Orr-Ewing manages to keep you interested in the Lauren character throughout. She is very likable, and you want her to come out the other side of the experience on top.

Eveline Hall seems to be the main "baddie" in the film, which is impressive when you consider the film has the literal devil in it. Eveline Hall really pulls off that creepy look well!

So I have covered most of the good stuff. What about the bad? Well, at 1 hour 45 minutes plus credits, the film does feel quite long. Films of this nature need to be under 90 minutes; 80 minutes is best. When you are dealing with a limited budget, this is even more important. Although, as mentioned, the scenes filmed in the day look great, the scenes filmed in the dark are a struggle at times. And since these are the scenes with demons, the devil, and so on, you really find yourself struggling to see what is going on.

The Good
I have to admit I am a bit of a "mark" for films in this genre - anything with a supernatural touch that is connected to Biblical stories, etc., and I am in from the first moment. I thought the story was relatively original, too - stealing the Turin Shroud to get the DNA of Jesus so you can create a baby powerful enough to be possessed by the Devil! That is pretty damn cool. All the actors involved did well, and a special mention for Alice Orr-Ewing, who is excellent throughout.

The Bad
The scenes in the dark are hard to see, and some of the visual effects are a bit poor. Also, about 15 minutes too long.

I liked this film probably more than I thought. The story really impressed me, and I can only imagine what could be done with a proper Hollywood-sized budget.

If you are a fan of supernatural films with a Bible touch, then you should enjoy this.

I score The Devil Conspiracy a solid 8/10.

Out Now in Cinemas or On Demand at https://apple.co/3F8crEj