Director: James Ryan Gary
Script: James Ryan Gary and Donald Wells
Cast: Michael Sharpe, David G. Holland, Patrick G. Keenan, Jenny Gulley, Tim Holt
Running time: 90 minutes approximately
In a world torn apart by nuclear destruction, where the Wild West and the way of the gun have returned once more, a stranger rides into the small town of Celestial; a stranger who will forever change the lives of all of its inhabitants.
Devil’s Crossing introduces us to Shadrach, a man who basically sold his soul to the Devil in order to wreck vengeance on those who took his family from him. The only problem is that was 235 years ago and ever since then he’s been forced to walk the earth working as ‘a collector of souls’, driven by the Devil’s minion known as ‘the motivator’. But Shadrach’s had enough of killing and just wants to end his agreement so decides to say ‘no’ to his earthly boss, Franklin Dela-Louise, when the two of them meet up in Celestial. He does this by refusing to kill a local bully and general nasty piece of work – instead he shoots him in the leg and hands him over to the drug-addled sheriff to take care of.
Franklin doesn’t take kindly to this lack of obedience and summons up the local dead from the many cemeteries nearby to attack the townsfolk until Shadrach changes his mind. The stage is then set for a typical Night of the Living Dead kind of scenario where a handful of survivors fight off hordes of the living dead who storm the saloon where most of the action takes place. And, as the final curtain falls, Shadrach takes on his oppressor in a duel to the death that will have repercussions for years to come.
Ok, plus points first. Devil’s Crossing is a reasonably well-made low budget indie movie that wears its heart on its sleeve and even has a few quite cool and semi-original ideas. The special effects, by Andy Boswell (Evil Dead 2), are pretty good for the most part (although too many were obviously done in post-production) and the main location for the film, reputably a real western town called Love Valley, is put to good use throughout. There are also some half decent action sequences and fight scenes although, like with a lot of modern films, sometimes these are hampered by an overly flashy editing style, which may have been used to disguise a lack of fighting skill – who knows?
On the negative side, like most low budget independents, Devil’s Crossing suffers from, at times, a confused script (it was written in just five days after all), some below par acting, occasional sound issues and a few poorly lit scenes making it a little difficult to see what’s going on although, to be fair, most of the time the lighting is pretty decent. It also suffers from a lack of truly sympathetic characters with none of the saloon’s inhabitants really being given time to demonstrate who they are and what they’re about.
Originally intended as a zombie western Devil’s Crossing evolved into a ‘post-apocalyptic rock and roll ninja zombie western’ (well, according to its director) when the location changed and the new one still had elements of the modern world in plain view. I’m not sure if enough is really made of the post-apocalyptic issue, since there’s never really any clear reference to the nuclear destruction, but it kind of works. However, just because the central character uses a samurai sword to kill a few zombies, it doesn’t then make it a ninja movie! I’m not sure where the rock n’ roll reference comes from either, as most of the music is folky in tone and only the music used in the trailer is truly rocky in nature. In actual fact they should have used that more rocky music in the film itself.
All in all I did enjoy Devil’s Crossing, but found myself brought out of the film a few too many times by various niggles I had with it. James Ryan Gary and his team should be commended on this their first effort at a feature though and I look forward to seeing what they come up with next – apparently Pull will be out soon.
Reviewer: Justin Richards
Left Films will be releasing Devil’s Crossing on DVD on 30 January so keep a look out for it on the shelves of your local HMV, supermarket or online. There were a variety of extras on the disc I was sent including a trailer, some informative production notes, and a short, but interesting interview with the director by a somewhat overly gushy interviewer. Maybe they should have just replaced her warbling with the questions on slugs in between his responses… just a thought!
And finally there’s a short horror film made by the Devil’s Crossing’s lead actor, Michael Sharpe. Monomaniacal is a gruesome, but fun, tale of a girl who wakes up in a basement surrounded by corpses of young women and, determined not to be the next one on the hit list, she manages to escape, but finds out the hard way why it’s always a good idea to travel with a map! Not particularly original, but pretty well made with some decent acting by the girls involved.