This found footage horror is set in the swinging 60’s but it isn’t influences by mini skirts and being hip instead the women involved are quite different, Devils Doorway sees Father Thomas Riley (Roddy) and Father John Thornton (Flynn) despatched by the vatican to investigate reports of a miracle in a Catholic asylum based in the wilderness of Northern Ireland.
At this remote asylum for immoral women, the statues of the Virgin Mary have been weeping blood. The two priests open their investigation by filming each other, the younger, Father John arms himself with a 16mm camera to record their findings and often interrogates father Thomas about his life and beliefs as a priest, after some adjustments they head to the vast home and begin their investigation but are confronted by some fiercely protective nuns who see their presence as insulting and can’t wait to see the backs of them.
Father Thomas doesn’t hide his feelings for the Magdalene Laundry and the people (nuns) running it, for years the church has kept unwed mother, prostitutes, orphans and the mentally insane in these laundry houses homes to work and care for, the fact that a miracle is happening in such a location is baffling, but within a short time the statue starts to weep blood, the men start looking for explanations but within minutes they are interpreted as now ALL the statues are bleeding.
Continuing to dig around they uncover the basement and a young girl who’s chained to a bed and holds the secret to the “miracle” and then things begin to get creepier as the two priest try to put things to right, they infantinaly start to set the path to their own destruction and the fear that the sisters have to the girl starts to rub off on them, but they try to liberate her from her shackles.
Overall the film is everything you’d expect it to be. Opening with the miracle, in this case bleeding statues there are some strong ties to Borderlands (2013) which saw Robin Hill and Gordon Kennedy film the breakthrough miracle in a rural church only to find out that something older and darker is lurking in the darkness for them, Thomas is the priest who’s seen to much and has a love hate relationship with the church much like Kennedy’s character, while Robin and Father John are the trusty camera wielding sidekicks who have more vested interest in finding the truth while being shit scared for most of the movie. Borderlands had a much more pagan feel to it, something that Ben Wheatley would be proud of, in stark contrast Devil’s Doorway sticks with Catholicism tightly and there’s a darkness present within the supposedly hallowed walls of the asylum.
The nuns are quite shifty from the beginning, which is something that only that’s only privy to the audience, their particularly harsh language and approach to the care of the women seems a bit over the top, but the men encounter a few jump scares here and there before the typical found footage moments come into play, most will be sign posted a mile off to any enthusiast but it has it’s creepy moments. Luckily the CGI is kept to a minimum and it’s only used to bolster the atmosphere from time to time.
It’s spooky for the most part but unfortunately nothing wholly new for the genre. I did get a kick out of a few scenes where some tension is built up, there’s a lot of spooky moments but the set up was just too much, so in the end it just doesn’t feel all that shocking, but much kudos needs to be given to keeping the camera effects pretty on point for authenticity for most of the film.
R: Devil Inside (2012), Borderlands/Final Prayer (2013),