Edinburgh International Film Festival

The Devil Outside (2018)

Starring: Noah Carson, Daniel Frogson, Keeley Forsyth, Alex Lowe, Mark Stobbart

Directed by: Andrew Hulme

Rating: 1 2 3 and a half

What do you get if you mix Stand By Me with Son of Rambow and then throw in a spoonful of Rosemary's Baby and even, God help us, Mother!?

Although God (or rather Jesus) is both bumptiously everywhere and absolutely nowhere to be seen in this striking and thought-provoking, and largely autobiographical coming of age film.

Robert (Noah Carson) lives in the suburbs of Nottingham with his parents, both evangelical Christians – staunch in the case of his father (Alex Lowe), in the case of his mother (Keeley Forsyth) full-blown religious nutter.

Noah Carson as Robert in The Devil Outside

But when Robert meets trouble-stirring streetwise newcomer Marcus (Daniel Frogson) at his church, he begins to question the fervent faith of his family which up until now he as accepted as the norm. Throw in a cocktail of adolescent hormones, a dark discovery in the woods and the unwelcome intrusion of charismatic, fiercely intense, itinerant lay preacher David (Mark Stobbart) (that's the Mother! bit), and the scene is set for an unusual and involving rite of passage drama.

Opening shots showing Robert wiping away mist to gaze through a window and staring, transfixed, at reflections in a puddle that appear to show two moons establish the themes of doubt and doubling that are further explored as our young hero struggles to get his head around the clash between the stark, black and white clarity of blind faith vs the muddy, upsetting confusions of real life. He is indeed seeing life through a glass darkly.

Okay, so the film is a bit too long and meanders awfully slowly at times, but boy is the ending worth waiting for, a proper tour de force that calls on traditional horror tropes for its final shock. A devilishly good start to the Edinburgh International Film Festival for me.

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