Devil's Crossing DVD Review
Written and Directed by James Ryan Gary
2011, Region 0 (PAL), 110 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 30th January 2012
Michael Sharpe as Shadrach
Patrick G. Keenan as Louise
Kevin L. Johnson as Patrick
Jenny Gulley as Charlie
Chris Walters as McDermitt
Tim Holt as Fester
Cowboys versus zombies in a post-apocalyptic future. With more gumption than your average straight to DVD zombie movie, Devil's Crossing heads to a futuristic Wild West (not the one with Will Smith). The world around it ravaged by nuclear war, the small town of Celestial, USA sets the stage for an epic showdown between the good, the bad and the dead.
Mysterious drifter Shadrach arrives in town, hoping to grab a quiet glass of milk in a local watering hole. And as the old saying goes, “all Hell followed with him.” Specifically, a fistful of zombies and one of the Devil's best necromancers. But first, there's the matter of an aggressive local bully to deal with. There's heap big action before the shambling dead even arrive. Which is good, because they don't bother to turn up for a whole forty minutes.
It's very dark and grim business, both thematically and visually. The small town is impressively created, with its populace of tawdry hookers, scared settlers and gloomy gunslingers. There are authentic pistol duels in the street, people ride horses and the place even has its own Saloon. Were it not for a few abandoned cars and LED lights, it'd be easy to mistake for a proper Western.
The atmosphere is well crafted but humourless, the script filled with scowling characters quoting Biblical scripture. They have names like Franklin Louise Scarborough, and ask for “libations” instead of drinks. The actors do the best they can with the material, but with so much macho posturing and grunted threats, too many of them come across as cheap Deadwood rejects. We're supposed to find Michael Sharpe's Shadrach an intimidating presence, but he's no Clint Eastwood. He's barely even Owen Wilson. Patrick Keegan fares better as the evil Louise (how very 'Boy Named Sue') – he at least looks like he belongs in a Western.
It's best described as a cross between the post-apocalyptic wastelands of Fallout and the six-shooter zombie action of Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare; the video game influences extend to the zombie killing, which is entertaining when it finally gets going. The shift from drama to all-out horror is exceptionally well done, similar in tone and pace to From Dusk Till Dawn. The effects are great, with all manner of violent death visited upon human, zombie and demon alike.
The setting and religious elements help set Devil's Crossing apart from the rest. The action compliments the Western Gothic brilliantly. The film is admirably ambitious with a scope not constrained by the its low budget. While it doesn't always live up to its own promise, it at least has the guts to try. They had me at “cowboys versus zombies.”
Video and Audio:
Sometimes it's too dark to see exactly what's going on, but the darkened rooms and black skies work in the movie's favour. It sounds fine, although the background score is cheap and horrible.
In lieu of a documentary, there are thirteen pages of production notes. All very interesting, but it's like trying to read a newspaper on your TV. There are also a series of interviews with writer/director James Ryan Gary and a trailer. Finally, there's a creepy short film directed by actor Michael Sharpe.