Oct 18th: I Trapped the Devil (2019) ☆1/2

Pretty sure I was the one trapped while I watched this horrendously drawn out movie.

Now, I might have been in a ~mood~ when I watched this, because Rotten Tomatoes has it at 75%, so other people obviously liked it. I did not like it. Nelson did not like it (but who cares about his opinion?) I Trapped the Devil, directed by Josh Lobo and available on Hulu, tried to show the trickling effects of having the Devil locked in your basement, but why?

***SPOILERS, HO! (ho ho, ’cause it’s a Christmas movie)***

I don’t really care about this movie. There isn’t a lot to analyze, and the characters were barely characterized. The film starts with two cops searching a dark–except for some eternally-lit Christmas lights all over the place–house for something-or-other. The TV keeps playing loud static, and the windows are blocked out. No one seems to be home.

Then the movie moves to earlier that day, when couple Matt (A.J. Bowen) and Karen (Susan Theresa Burke) make a surprise trip to Matt’s brother’s house on Christmas. Matt’s brother, Steve (Scott Poythress) greets them not with excitement, but with unease. He tells them to leave. The brothers fight. Karen intervenes, saying it was her idea.

Okay. So, at first, you don’t really know anyone’s names or family titles, if I remember correctly. It was a little difficult to discern why any of this was happening, and I think that sort of trails throughout the movie. Steve doesn’t seem like a close friend of Karen’s, so I don’t really know why her intervention would shut him up. There’s no clear reason for Matt and Steve to be so hostile to one another. Heck, Matt and Karen–who are apparently trying to have a baby–barely act like they like each other, let alone love each other.

And thus, this trio of characters maintain an awkward, boring space from one another even when they are fighting and (later) killing each other. Even when they touch, it feels oddly distant. Maybe it was the lighting, the use of Christmas lights or dim kitchen settings or the ominous red of the basement that actually gave me a headache (yeah, looking back on this, I dislike it even more than when I watched it.)

But I haven’t even gotten to the important part: Steve believes that he has trapped the Devil in his basement (cellar? Let’s say cellar.) Steve leads Matt and Karen downstairs to the red-lit room where strange humming sounds permeate the air and an auto-tune deep voice begs for help behind a locked cellar door.

Naturally, Karen and Matt think Steve has committed some crime, and they want to call the police. Karen admits to Matt that she was looking around (SNOOPING, for some reason, and it made the relationships feel even weirder) upstairs and found a loaded gun under the bed (yes, she was looking under the bed; why, Karen?) She convinced Matt that Steve might be a danger to them and others, but Steve won’t let them leave or call anyone.

Sure. Okay. I guess. Steve truly believes the Devil is there, and that someone is coming to get the Devil, and Matt doesn’t want his brother to go to jail because of some tragic event that is barely discussed (Steve’s wife and daughter were killed in a car crash on a different Christmas Day) that has warped his sense of justice and reality. Matt wants to let the trapped man go and get Steve help.

But that doesn’t happen. After a pretty boring and strangely not tense series of scenes in which Steve plays with a loaded gun, Matt and Karen talk in hushed whispers, and the TV static shows strange images, Karen decides to go downstairs and investigate the Devil dude all alone.

Basically, even if this guy isn’t the Devil, he is really trying to live up to the hype Steve has set for him. The cellar man begs Karen to let him go, which she does not, and then taunts her and laughs at her for a little while before she leaves. Obviously, this Devil doesn’t really care if he goes free, and, at this point, it’s clear that the tense atmosphere between the trio is dwindling to something more dangerous.

But it was so boooooring. The mentions of Steve’s family tragedy are vague and really did nothing to serve his character. He has a couple spiels about the root of evil and what evil really means, but I found them trite and nothing new. He was trying to be philosophical, but I wasn’t feeling it, and so I didn’t even flinch when Steve stabbed Matt to keep him from setting the cellar Devil man free, or when Karen shot Steve, or when the cops suddenly came back to the screen (totally unnecessary intro for them at the start) and one of them shoots Karen in the cellar as she shoots him back.

And then, there is one. One cop is left, and the Devil behind the door pulls him over to open it. There is an altogether too long focus on him opening the door, and the door literally opening, and then something unexpected steps out: the legs of a child in stockings and buckled shoes. The child, whose face is not shown, traipses up the stairs past the lone cop, parades through the house with blonde ponytail bouncing, and walks right out the front door to disappear.

What?

Eh, I don’t care enough to think about it.

I can’t wait for the last week of the month,

Abs

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