Every now and again you come across a film that seems like it’s everything you’ve ever wanted… on paper. But usually end up with is a movie that you really don’t know what to do with because it satisfies some small part of you but not much else. These are usually movies we’ve never heard of before, but come across a poster are short snippet online, forcing us to buy the film sight unseen just to satisfy your curiosity. Don’t give a wrong, sometimes it pays off, and sometimes it doesn’t’, It depends on the individual. This common chain of events is pretty much what led me to a little film called Devil Girl.
Devil girl is a fever dream seen through the eyes of Fay, a small-town girl who hits the road to find a new life after the death of her father. After a near collision during a street race, her car breaks down stranding her in a small desert town where she must work as a stripper to earn enough money to fix your car and get back on the road. She is not alone in her journey though, as she is shadowed by a drugged out clown on a similar journey. Though they don’t know each other, their paths are intertwined in a town populated by perverted psychopaths, white trash strippers, evil priestess, and various hallucinations of private Hells.
The premise in the box art of devil girl promises the world of Coop art, fueled by a White Zombie soundtrack, a tattoo parlor come to life in its most dangerous and unhinged to form. Does it succeed? Yes and no. The film misses the mark with almost every set piece, taking potentially visually exciting scenes and turning them into badly edited snippets that detract from the film’s overall narrative. The film wants to be David Lynch in presentation, so badly that it hurts but like Gus Van Sant’s remake of Psycho, the filmmaker can’t quite pull it off. In this particular case, the attempt is admirable. Howie Askins fumbles but doesn’t fail in his attempt to bring this type of world to life. All the elements are present and though they’re not used to the extent that most of the audience would appreciate, it could be worse, we’ve seen them ignored and misused more often than not.
Let’s talk casting. Jessica Graham is a good actress just the natural beauty and edge to her which I can appreciate, but, and I know that I’m gonna get shit for this, doesn’t have the body for the role. The film Howie Askins is trying to make requires certain things; hot rods, sex, violence, hellishly imagery, and voluptuous women. Jessica is rather boyish which, like Talisa Sotos ridiculously horrid Vampirella film, betrays the very intentions of the film its trying follow through on. That being said, Jessica’s performance is top-notch and she grabs the film and reality that could be easily be lost. The clown, played by Joe Ross, just doesn’t go far enough. His performance is one note which really becomes uninteresting after the first couple of scenes. The thing is, he performs a function that is absolutely necessary and if you look it the character from that respect, he’s successful.
So the film is successful and it’s not. Here’s the thing though, I kept watching. Not in an ill-fated attempt to find something redeemable in the film, but because I was genuinely interested in seeing where Fay’s journey was going to take her. I cared how the film’s one and which is more than I can say for similarly themed films like Oliver Stone’s U-turn. Though the film stumbles in certain areas I wish it hadn’t, the set pieces are outstanding. In the end is one of those films that you watch once and absorb, and then you play in the background while you’re doing other things.
It’s a story of one woman’s descent into hell that she can’t seem to escape and though the presentation leaves you wanting more, the story is involving enough to get you to the end, which is more than I can say for a lot of films in a similar vein. It’s not the tattoo shop come to life that we’d hoped for but it is a film like no other attempting to explain the visual style that no one else has even attempted. For that alone it deserves a look, a nod, and a shot.