Josh Lobo takes on a huge amount of work to write, produce edit and direct this film, I Trapped the Devil, and overall he’s done a good job with it. At times it is tense and creepy in a something-isn’t-quite-right way, but you do find yourself waiting for a moment of reveal or even just something more explosive that never seems like it is going to happen.
When Matt and his wife, Karen, turn up at Matt’s brothers (Steve) house for the Christmas holidays, they don’t get anything like the warm seasons greetings they were expecting. OK so maybe they weren’t expecting a good welcome, having been estranged for a long while, but they definitely weren’t expecting to basically be told to go away. The reasoning behind Steve’s attitude slowly comes to light when he reveals that he believes that he has trapped the Devil in his basement and is acting in a protective manner, or so he believes.
With allusions to mental instability and delusions, Matt and Karen both try to persuade Steve that all he has done is trap some innocent bystander in a makeshift cell in his basement, while Steve is adamant that he has done what he says and even backs it up with a huge amount of research that has lead him to get to this place. Both parties are sure they are doing the right thing, believing that they are the ones acting in the common good but coming at this problem from different directions, and herein lies the tension.
Unfortunately there isn’t enough of this knife-edge tension or atmosphere of craziness to carry through this film. The sense of unease is there from the off, and that is really well handled and helped along by a really good performance from Scott Poythress as Steve. But I Trapped the Devil doesn’t maintain or build on these elements until the final act when we do get the inevitable maelstrom. The tone of these final moments makes you feel all the more the lack of urgency and pressure in the earlier parts of the film.