Writer/director Jason DeVan’s direct-to-video release Along Came the Devil emerged as a pleasant surprise last year, milking a micro-budget for everything it was worth, while assuring audiences that it was “based on true events.” That’s a line that tends to have a lot of caché with fans of demonic possession movies, and there are a lot of them.
It’s not a surprise that to see a sequel come down the pike, and not surprisingly, the “true events” aspect isn’t up front, as the filmmakers venture further out on their own. That won’t matter to fans of the original at this point, and the fact of the matter is, the DeVans (featuring two of the director’s children onscreen, as well as his wife in both acting and producing capacities, this is very much a family project).
In the first movie, Ashley (Sydney Sweeney of Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”) was sent to live with her estranged Aunt Tanya (Jessica Barth of Ted 2). She began to have visions of her deceased mom, driving her to attempt to contact the spirit world, resulting in her unknowingly unleashing demonic forces. In the sequel, after receiving an unsettling voicemail, Ashley’s younger sister Jordan (Laura Wiggins) returns home looking for answers, only to find even more questions.
Wiggins is convincing as the now older Jordan, though it’s young Cassius DeVan as a young half-brother who might or might not be under the influence of demonic forces himself. Bruce Davison (X-Men) makes a welcome return as the would-be exorcist town pastor, and Mark Ashworth, who loomed over the first movie’s prologue as an Ashley and Jordan’s abusive father reprises the role, though the character has had a notable transformation.Co-producer Heather DeVan clearly relishes the opportunity to work in heavy character makeup.
Where this sequel has a leg up is that DeVan didn’t give audiences a cookie cutter happy ending in the first installment, and so no one had any reason to think the town’s demonic possession problem was actually over and done with. And the DeVan Clan (which actually is the name of their production company) appears to have had a bigger budget – not big – just bigger – this time around, resulting in a handsome-looking product. Jay Ruggieri’s lush cinematography is an asset.
Scarier than its predecessor, with a particularly fast-paced, no holds barred third act, DeVan knows his modern horror movie lore, and if anything increases his propensity for Easter eggs for sharp-eyed fans. Nods to not only The Exorcist, which DeVan acknowledges as a favorite, but Halloween and The Shining abound.
Along Came the Devil II is a straightforward, unpretentious horror thriller that’s being unleashed in theaters, on demand and digital October 11th, 2019, just in time for Halloween. And yes, there is a room for an Along Came the Devil III.