I’m embarrassed to admit that, until recently, I had never heard of Writer/Director Jess Norvisgaard’s feature length directorial debut, The Good Things Devils Do (2020). Of the relatively small main cast of seven, three of them—Bill Oberst, Jr. (Circus Of The Dead 2014 – read our interviews with him here and here), Linnea Quigley (Return Of The Living Dead 1985 – read our interviews with her here and here), and Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th franchise – read our interview with him here)—are some of my favorites in the indie horror genre. How could this have passed by me unnoticed? I blame 2020. Just one more reason this year has sucked.
But when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, right? At least I got to go into this anthology spoiler-free. That’s not something you can say every day.
Starring along with Bill, Kane, and Linnea are Mary Katherine O’Donnell (Unbearing 2017 – read our review here), Producer Kelley Wilson Robinson (upcoming Ted Bundy Had A Son), Veronika Stoykova (The Things We Lose 2019), and David Rucker III (Sustained 2017). The score was composed by Neil Lee Griffin (Cracks 2018) while the special FX were created by FX Artist John Lauterbach (Red Eye 2017 – read our review here). The Evil Inside Her’s (2019) Tamara Hopkins and James Suttles co-produced alongside Actress Kelley Wilson Robinson, and Suttles also handled the camera work. Aaron Putnam (Strigoli 2009) edited the film.
How do you know something you’re doing is bad? Is it always obvious that one action is black wrong while the other is white right? Do all good intentions lead to the road to Hell? Can an evil person commit an act of good? These are all questions answered in The Good Things Devils Do.
What Works In The Good Things Devils Do
You know how, when you see a big name in the top billing of a film’s cast list, it makes you all the more excited to see it? Then, you watch with baited breath, only to realize that said name is only in the movie for 1.5 seconds (I’m looking at you, The Woods!). That’s what I was expecting when I saw the cast list for The Good Things Devils Do. But I was outright ecstatic that, not only were such familiar faces appearing in the film, they carried the entire movie on their respectable shoulders!
Bill Oberst, Jr. plays Richard, a small-time criminal who wants to leave the business, but must complete one last job … break into a rival gangster’s house on Halloween night and steal a pile of money. He’s taking his exuberant, psychotic daughter, Mouse (O’Donnell), with him.
Somewhere else, the jack-o-lantern sweatered Melvin (Rucker III) wants to impress the neighborhood kids with his ever growing Museum of the Macabre, and he can’t wait to show them his newest addition. His wife, Louisie (Quigley), just wants to make her husband happy. Her daughter, the almost 40-year-old Caroline (Robinson), prances around like a teenage cheerleader in heat, shaking her butt and distracting every male in a five mile radius. Last but not least is Percy (Hodder), a psycho who just wants to stab, maim, wrench, ply, and flay people to his heart’s content, but this Halloween, he has a job to do.
When all of these characters finally come together, it’s not the meet cute everyone was hoping for. As a matter of fact, an ancient evil has been unleashed in the form of the corrupt Masquerade (Stoykova), a long dead vampiress risen from the grave with one thing on her mind … blood!
I also want to mention the lusciously viscous blood and chunky, oily guts that are splashed all over everything in The Good Things Devils Do. Special FX Artist John Lauterbach did a disgustingly wonderful job creating the results of Masquerade’s murder and mayhem. The thick, black blood he used is a great choice. Not only does it make everyone look nasty, but it also blends with the darkness and obscures facial features, making it near impossible to tell the gore-splattered good guys from the bloodthirsty bad guys.
Also, what a cool idea it was to have the vampiress bellow steamy smoke when she screams! It’s enough that you see it, but not so much that it looks corny. It’s like her breath is so cold it freezes the air. So cool!
There’s also the perfect lighting from Greg Hudgins (Pawn Queens TV series) and impressive sound from W.S. Pivetta (The Bewailing 2020). These two aspects can be real hangups in some indie films, but in this one, it’s especially fantastic. I don’t normally mention this kind of thing, but this time, I wanted to give props where props were due.
I’m not sure who’s idea it was to have Richard tape knives to his daughter’s hands, but I loved it. It could have been slapstick and over the top, but it wasn’t, and it gave Mouse two continuous weapons as well as a huge, handless disadvantage.
Of course, you can’t have a movie starring Kane Hodder without having him choke someone to death. Not only did we get that, but we also got a knock down, drag out fight between the hulking Hodder and the wiry Oberst. Punches are thrown, bodies are slammed, eyes are socked … it’s an indie horror movie showdown!
“I don’t know what you are, but I’ve seen you bleed, and that’s all I need.”—Rich (Bill Oberst, Jr.) The Good Things Devils Do
What Doesn’t Work In The Good Things Devils Do
There are a lot of things to love about The Good Things Devils Do, but that’s not to say that there aren’t aspects that disappointed me. In the beginning, the story is interesting and fun to follow, but once the vampire-y shit hit the fan, characters started saying and doing some pretty strange things. Maybe this is due to a snip-happy editor, or maybe there were problems with the script. Whatever the reason, these people were making some head-scratching decisions. I won’t go into what one character was doing at the end of the film rather than taking care of the dead bodies in his house, but you’ll see what I mean when you watch it. Characters are rude when they have no reason to be, and others trust people they have no reason to trust. It’s a bit distracting.
Speaking of the characters, I found none of them to be likable. Usually, when the horror is brought forth, even the the biggest jackasses come around to help. But in The Good Things Devils Do, Richard remains a self-centered asshole, Mouse is still a whiny, put out teenager, Louisie doesn’t stop being a doormat, Caroline never gains a brain cell, and Melvin still puts his own needs before his family’s. I honestly didn’t care if any of them lived or died. Although when they did kick the bucket, i was happy to see that it was plenty bloody.
Final Thoughts For The Good Things Devils Do
All told, The Good Things Devils Do is a chaotic, ichor-drenched romp full of screeching demons, dripping entrails, and squelching blood and guts. Unlike many anthologies, the three stories told here dovetail perfectly into a streamlined yet tumultuous story that delivers. Do yourself a favor, and check this one out. Recommended!