The Devil’s Business
Written and directed by Sean Hogan, The Devil’s Business is quite unlike most conventional horror-genre movies. Likened to Kill List, The Devil’s Business follows in near real-time an English and Irish hitman duo. Although the roles of lead man and sidekick characters are reversed from what they were in Kill List, the plot remains very similar.
Sent by gangster Bruno (Harry Miller), a cockney character not that dissimilar to the colourful characters found on films like Lock, Stock and Two Smokin’ Barrels, experienced killer Pinner (Billy Clarke) and his not-so-experienced sidekick Cully (Jack Gordon) are instructed to eliminate Kist (Jonathan Hansler).
Although Pinner and Cully thought they have Kist goodbye to their target, stronger forces seem to be at work in their mark’s country residence.
What starts off as perversely comical soon reaches into the depths of satanic darkness as Pinner, fuelled by the incessant questioning from Cully, soon begins to examine his own reasons for working as a hitman and, more specifically, why Bruno is so keen to ensure Kist’s eradication.
Unlike the usual typecast whimsical Irish man, Clarke plays old-timer Pinner to calculated perfection. As a morbid storyteller with a cool, calm composure, juxtaposed with Gordon’s exasperating Cully makes for very entertaining viewing.
With much of the film set in darkness with a limited glow from flashlights and moonlight, there is a lot of similarity to British films noir. Equally, there is much to be owed to Harold Pinter, for much inspiration was taken from his play, The Dumb Waiter; “the notion of two hitmen waiting for a target to turn up and discovering they are at the mercy of malign higher powers” (Sean Hogan).
Certainly, the dim lightening opens up the fear factor, as do the shadows and the unidentifiable noises. Even the humour, and an abundance of one-liners do nothing to stem the sense of tension and unease. But without a doubt, that is exactly what Hogan intended for The Devil’s Business and for that it is extremely successful.
The final shock is both brutal and quick. Whilst a grisly end is expected in some form, the actual finale is a touch disappointing. Inconclusive and tacky, the low budget of this film is certainly highlighted in the final scenes.
However, this 75-minute-long film is refreshingly different from most films from the same genre, and a single location, only four characters, and an intense type of horror makes for interesting viewing. Definitely worth a watch for something a little alternative, and some devilishly solid performances.
The Devil’s Business is released on DVD on September 10th.