The Horror Honeys: INVADING YOUR SCREENS THIS DECEMBER…

INVADING YOUR SCREENS THIS DECEMBER…

A Sci-Fi Honey *Sneak Preview* Review by Katie

The Device (2014)

There’s a new indie sci-fi/horror film making the rounds in the festival circuit later this month, and this Honey caught a sneak preview just for all you #AlienBees looking to devour its extraterrestrial madness when it comes to DVD and VOD on December 16th.  Beaming into your homes this winter is Jeremy Berg’s The Device, a creepy and well-crafted little flick that focuses on the deliberate and unremitting threat of a space-dwelling menace.

From writer/director team John Portanova and Jeremy Berg, whose previous indie effort The Invoking (aka Sader Ridge) was reviewed by our Head Honey at Crypticon Seattle, The Device opens with spouses-to-be Abby and Calvin (Angela DiMarco and David S. Hogan), who are picking up Abby’s sister Rebecca (Kate Alden, who I swear might be Katie Featherston’s twin).  Abby and Rebecca haven’t seen each other in years, their relationship having unraveled since Rebecca experienced a kidnapping and rape at the hands of her crazed boyfriend.  Their mother having recently passed away, the sisters reunite at the family’s rural lakefront cabin to scatter her ashes and end up discovering the wreckage of a craft, a strange spherical object, and repressed memories… like the one where Rebecca’s boyfriend was NOT the one who actually kidnapped and impregnated her all those years ago, if you catch my drift…

Spoiler alert: ALIENS!
Against the better judgment of anyone who’s ever had a rational thought, Calvin brings the sphere to the home he shares with Abby and begins to experiment with the object, thinking it will somehow make them rich.  Anyone who has seen Phantasm knows that tiny spherical orbs are not to be trusted, and soon this “device” invades Calvin’s psyche, gives Rebecca night terrors, and wreaks all-around psychological torment for everyone in its presence.  From here it’s a battle against madness brought on by an ominous alien presence, glimpsed in the fevered moments between wakefulness and sleep, when you can’t be sure if something was a memory or a horrible dream.

Hmm, it says Property of Xenu...
As with any semi-amateur independent feature, one could nitpick some of the film’s shortcomings – sometimes choppy, jump-cut style editing, low production values, and so on – but for a comparable film in this genre, The Device has well-thought out character development, solid acting and story, and halfway decent alien effects.  What truly sets this film apart, however, is how it chooses to focus on the psychological aspect of an abduction event.  Abduction in any sense, even if you take away the fantastical extraterrestrial elements of this genre, is a traumatizing experience that can leave both physical and emotional scars.  Too few sci-fi/horror endeavors that revolve around alien abduction choose to focus on the psychosomatic repercussions of being violently snatched from the sanctum of home, violated against your will, and having your sense of safety forever shaken.  Through Rebecca’s processing of her trauma – going to therapy, experiencing flashbacks and nightmares, and leaning on family for support – The Device presents a more thoughtful take on the abduction narrative and the enduring terror that follows such an event.

I'm sorry; I'm not really in the mood for a probing right now.
I’ve dealt with my fair share of indie sci-fi this year – ranging from terrible to excellent – and whether they’re good or bad, I always begin watching these films in my best horror-cheerleader mindset: “yayyy, I hope this is good!”  There’s something so admirable about a filmmaker who has very little resources but wants to do everything they can to scare the pants off people; and for the most part, this film doesn’t disappoint.  If you’re looking for a gory shocker with gut-punch action (and I wouldn’t blame you if you are), look elsewhere.  If you’re in the mood for something more deliberately chilly and contemplative, be sure to catch The Device this December.


Sci-Fi Honey Rating:  Three-and-a-half spine-chilling space spheres out of five.