Nicholas McCarthy follows up The Pact with another bout with the supernatural in his second feature film At the Devil’s Door. McCarthy clearly knows what he’s doing when it comes to delivering the chills as The Pact was a smart and genuine slice of genre scares. So what happened with At the Devil’s Door? This was a frustrating little film from McCarthy simply because it starts out with such promise only to lose its way right when things start to get good. The film follows a real estate agent, Leigh, who has to sell a house with a sketchy past. After a run-in with a disturbed girl, she becomes entangled with a supernatural force that soon pulls her artist sister Vera into its web—and has sinister plans for both of them.
At the beginning of the film we’re introduced to a girl, played by Ashley Rickards, who is brought to a mysterious man living in a trailer that essentially convinces her to invite the devil into her life… all for $500. Smart move, girl, smart move. Later, when she gets home, the girl quickly becomes terrorized and possessed by the devil. This all happens within the first 15 minutes or so of the film, making quick work of a simple premise. Which is great because with a film that barely hits the 90 minute mark, you want it to move along quickly and get straight to the point. At the Devil’s Door does exactly that, but the only problem is that it gets lost in itself along the way.
Where things go sour is the fact that there’s almost too many main characters. Is it the girl we see at the beginning, the real estate woman or her sister? The film never spends enough time on either of them as their story arcs come and go before you even have time to remember their names. It felt like they were trying to cram too many elements into the film, essentially over complicating a story that really didn’t need it. The characters weren’t the only thing rushed, however, as the story itself tries to cover way too much ground in such a short amount of time. I mean, we see a girl get attacked by the devil, become pregnant, go into a coma for 8 months, have the baby, give up the baby, then return to visit the baby six years later all in under 30 minutes. That’s rough.
It’s not without its fair share of chills, though, as McCarthy does deliver a couple of nightmare-worthy scares. He smartly uses the devil sparingly, only showing his face in the dark when it matters the most. A lot more of that and a focus on just one or two characters could have changed the entire identity of this one. And I think that’s why I left this one so disappointed because you see what it could have been compared to what you got.