The Devil’s Doorway
Northern Ireland, 1960: Father Thomas Riley and Father John Thornton are dispatched by the Vatican to investigate reports of a miracle, a statue of the Virgin Mary weeping blood, at a remote Catholic asylum for immoral women. Armed with 16mm film cameras to record their findings, the priests instead discover a depraved horror show of sadistic nuns, satanism, and demonic possession. Supernatural forces are at work here, but they are not the doing of God.
Over the roughly 230 years that they were in operation, some 30,000 women and girls are believed to have passed through Ireland’s now infamous Magdalene laundries. They were the women society rejected: sex workers, orphans, victims of rape and child abuse, the mentally ill and those who became pregnant out of wedlock. They provided slave labor for the Church’s businesses whilst any children they gave birth to were sold for adoption – or suffered much worse fates. In the wake of the findings at the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, one might think that nothing more horrific could be made of the subject – but by using these issues as the foundations of a horror film, Aislinn Clarke has created a conduit for the anger that resides in the scandal’s wake.
I could never figure out why I’ve always loved found footage movies. I know way too many people that cannot stand them, but no, I absolutely love them. I agree that some are a bit lame, but let me say, this one is actually really good, and I’ve seen a lot of positive comments about it as well. This one starts off a little on the slow side but it’s not long until it starts rocking. Quite violently I must add. Another thing, this is definitely one of those movies you have to stay on your toes with, meaning that you need to be paying attention during the entire thing because there are many things shown so quickly, and subtle things happening that you just wouldn’t see if you were not paying attention.
The movie tells us how Father Riley and Father Thornton have been sent to a home of the ‘fallen women’ to investigate a claim beholding a miracle, one that was anonymously reported concerning a statue of the Virgin Mary that cries blood. Father Thomas is pretty skeptical of everything this involves and suspects they will find nothing. It seems that he’s been at this sort of business for years and years and has never come upon anything legit, so admittingly his focus is aimed more to working out how the scam had been engineered.
Father John, on the other hand, is fresh out of seminary and highly curious about this report. His job purpose in all this is to document his colleague’s work on camera. It’s not long after they arrive that Father John becomes convinced that he is seeing things, horrible things that are not of this world. Father Thomas is shown to be growing more and more enraged by all the torment and cruelty he witnesses on how these women are being treated. Meanwhile, Father John is starting to suspect that there is some sort of supernatural evil involved.
As the two priests begin investigating the “miracle” of blood tears found flowing from Virgin Mary statues that lead nowhere, one of the women tells them that a pregnant woman is being locked up in the basement. They soon realize that evil is lurking within these walls. Their investigation leads them deep into mysterious caves where they make the shocking discovery. Locating the girl, they discover that she is no longer pregnant but is now possessed. She’s shown painfully screaming and attacking others. Crosses begin to turn upside down, beds shake, and she stars to levitates, while they find the room to be full of satanic artifacts. They then seek to locate the baby that the girl just gave birth to.
The Devil’s Doorway basically portrays the hypocrisy of the church with condoning the torture of woman and the unholy and un-recorded deaths and burials of newborn children while preaching morality to the people. Admittingly, this film is far better than the majority of found-footage movies out there today. The acting is purely amazing and the special effects were not bad either. The camera editing was made to look like that of a retro 35mm camera, which gave it a boost of overall realism. The overall feel was unsettling, tense, and really creepy. There’s also not a whole lot going on in this movie, and some people might even claim that it’s a bit slow. But since it’s a very short movie (not even 80 minutes), it doesn’t drag out and it manages to stay interesting all the way to the end.
Director, Aislinn Clarke stated that she chose the 1960’s as the setting for the film because it was during this period when these institutions were at the height of their powers in Ireland. Clarke also shared that it was clear that the Magdalene Laundries had cast a very long shadow over Ireland, one that spanned until the mid-1990s, and the effects of these places are still being felt today.
An online interview revealed: “I had my son when I was 17, which was the year after the last Magdalene Laundry closed,” Clarke said. “People think these places existed a very long time ago, but that was 1997; the last one had closed in 1996. I was 17 and unmarried, I could have been in one if the circumstances have been different.”
I only had one issue with this film, and that is it’s just too damn short. Seriously who the hell does a full feature movie that’s only 75 minutes? That’s incredibly short! Even at that, it’s still a very solid film. By the way, if you want authentic horror, you truly must see “The Magdalene Sisters”, which documents a lot of the crazy shit that went on there. As a whole, the film is artfully composed, and its graininess makes it feel much more real and horrific than a lot of the more polished productions. Definitely worth watching.
Title: The Devil’s Doorway
Release Date: July 13, 2018
Runtime: 1 hour, 16 minutes
Genre: Horror, Occult, Drama
Studio: Shout! Factory
Starring: Lalor Roddy, Ciaran Flynn, Helena Bereen, Lauren Coe
MPAA Rated: NR
Directors: Aislinn Clarke
Reviewed by: Kathryn Price
Our Rating: 4.2 /5
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