The countdown to Frightfest 2019 is ON, with just a few days to go until the UK’s biggest and best horror festival takes over Leicester Square. In the weeks leading up to the festival, our intrepid reporter Joey Keogh will be taking a look at some of the most anticipated movies on this year’s jam-packed schedule. For the final installment, she focuses on Josh Lobo’s I Trapped The Devil.
I caught Josh Lobo’s debut feature I Trapped The Devil earlier this year and loved it so much that, when it was added to the Frightfest lineup, I actively considered watching it again with a crowd. Plenty of directors feel the need to over-explain with their first movies, but Lobo is confident enough in his vision to leave us to figure it out for ourselves, which is incredibly refreshing. It’s also super scary too, which helps.
Set almost entirely within the confines of a spacious old house (which the Wyoming native scouted himself during long drives and, he explained when we chatted a few months back, almost exactly matched the idea he had in his mind for it while writing the script) the movie toggles with the idea that the Devil himself has been captured and is being kept in the basement. From there, it’s a three-way argument over what’s really going on.
The great strength of I Trapped The Devil lies in its ability to slowly reveal, well, not much of anything. Lobo shoots his three leads arguing and pacing about the house, drawing our attention to whatever is lurking in the basement, but he never overplays his hand. There’s a suggestion it’s nothing and that madness has instead taken hold, but the first time director keeps his cards close to his chest until the movie’s genuinely terrifying final moments.
The synopsis, from Frightfest, captures that enticingly strange, supernatural feeling:
Deck the halls with fire and brimstone. Christmas is supposed to be a time for peace and joyful family reunions. But when Matt (You’re Next icon AJ Bowen) and his wife Karen (Southbound’s Susan Burke) show up unannounced at the home of his estranged brother Steve (Scott Poythress from the Sleepy Hollow TV series) to celebrate the holidays, they are instead greeted with a horrifying surprise. Steve has trapped a man in his dark, dusty basement. But not just any old man. For Steve truly believes that his hostage is none other than the devil himself.
Reviews have been mostly positive, with BD‘s Meagan Navarro describing I Trapped The Devil as, “A slow-burn tale of paranoia and familial obligation that does crawl out of the gate but crescendos in one satisfying ending. It may be small scaled in terms of setting and characters, but Lobo’s debut is ambitious in effort.” Over at High Def Digest, Dede Crimmins notes, “The experience of watching it makes for a tense, slow-burn horror film.” Our own Fallon Gannon praised the lack of CGI, advising, “The result being a slow burn flick that finishes the experience off with a graceful, Black Mirror-like ending. It’s a constant mind game with twists and turns that makes viewers question everything they see.”
Check out the trailer for I Trapped The Devil below, and sound off in the comments about whether you think this is going to be a festive horror to add to the annual rotation or a piece of coal left under the tree. Stay tuned to the site for all the must-know Frightfest 2019 reviews and interviews from the festival.
I Trapped The Devil plays at Frightfest 2019 at 11PM on Saturday, 24 August 2019 on the Prince Charles Cinema Discovery Screen Two. The full festival line-up of films is available on their official site, where all ticketing information can also be found. Wicked Horror will once again be there to bring you all the must-read reviews and exclusive interviews from this year’s festival. So stay tuned.