Movie Review: “Devoured” – Simple and Subversive

Written by Angela February 26, 2015

Desperate times call for desperate measures, or so the adage goes. The question is, just how far can one actually go before breaking? Greg Olliver’s 2012 indie horror film explores the psychological limitations of one young woman who will do anything, and then some, in a furious effort to save her son’s life.

El Salvador native Lourdes (Marta Milans) has journeyed to New York City to find work. She needs to make cash and make it quick, as money is all that stands between her ailing young son and his much-needed operation. Having left her child back home in the care of his grandmother, Lourdes willingly withstands loneliness, poverty, and gruelling night shift hours for the sake of the greater good. But gradually she starts to see unusual things while tending to her custodial job at a small restaurant. From moving garbage bags and stalking shadows, Lourdes can’t help but begin to question her own sanity. Matters are not improved by her tyrannical boss nor the incessant sexual harassment from line cooks and customers alike. But only a few more dollars, and soon Lourdes will have all the money she needs—will she be able to hold on?

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“Devoured” is worth watching for a number of reasons. First off is the impressive way the film transcends the limitations of its low budget and simplistic setting to tell a captivating story. The plot in itself it fairly basic and perhaps a tinge predictable, but the execution of the tale is profound considering the way it conveys Lourdes’ deeply strained psychological condition with as few special effects as possible. And, while the special effects that do appear are of an undeniably cheap quality, cinematographer Lyle Vincent distracts the audience from this with the movie’s tense and suspenseful shots. Add a minimalist score and a cast of local eager-to-please actors, and the final result is what I’ve come to identify as the ideal indie horror film: a modest grassroots project that prioritizes authentic storytelling over regurgitating tired mainstream cliches. This, my friends, is the type of film that will forever deserve our undivided attention.

“God bless America. And whatever country you’re from.”

Let’s face facts. “Devoured” tells a story that no big name studio would want anything to do with. It’s no secret that mainstream horror films heavily rely upon the exploitation of women, not to mention a plethora of social “others” (hell, if there happened to be a cemetery where every single woman, homosexual, non-white and sexually deviant horror movie victim were buried, it’d be the size of Wyoming). But “Devoured” pushes past all this with its main character—an impoverished, female illegal immigrant—and overturns an abundance of horror movie tropes.

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In the same vein as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” the film is fueled by an ambition to give voice to a predominantly overlooked figure in the genre. The stereotype of the “spicy Latina babe” is replaced with an actual human being, and all the facets of her fraught personal back-story are explicitly examined under the lens of the horror scope. Lourdes’ is a tale of psychological terror that can, has, and will continue to happen to women the world throughout, and therein lies the scariest part of the entire movie. As a concept, “Devoured” puts a dark twist on “Humans of New York” and delivers a finely crafted story in the process. Lourdes may be a fictional character, but her struggle will nevertheless draw you in and keep you on her side—even when things get very, very bloody.

My Rating: 8/10

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About Angela

Angela McInnes is an English major and up-and-coming horror film aficionado. To her, happiness is a bottle of rum and a creature-feature on a Saturday night.

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