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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents

Devour (2005)

"I can't remember when I had my first waking nightmare. They're too disturbing to be called daydreams."- Jake (Jensen Ackles)

Stars: Jensen Ackles
Other Stars: Shannyn Sossamon, Dominique Swain, Martin Cummins, Teach Grant, William Sadler, Jenn Griffin
Director: David Winkler

MPAA Rating: R for violence, language, some sexual content and drug use
Run Time: 01h:29m:57s
Release Date: 2005-05-31
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- C-B-B- D


DVD Review

Devour seems like a made-for-the-WB kind of horror film, the kind of world generally populated with mostly attractive people, led by hunky onetime Smallville cast member Jensen Ackles, who here plays Jake, a somber 21-year-old plagued by disturbing and violent "waking nightmares". His best pals are no great source of support, as it is either disenfranchised stoner Conrad (Teach Grant) or annoying belly-shirt wearing f***-buddy Dakota (Dominique Swain), neither of which are what you would consider a solid shoulder to lean on.

Jake's mental state is further forced to the nether regions of the dark side when Conrad signs him up with an online revenge game called The Pathway, one of those trite movie-specific computer creations that ends up being a direct link to evil, and maybe Satan himself. That is, it could if I followed the story correctly, because I wasn't exactly sure how The Pathway worked, and even when it was finally explained when the film's major villain is revealed, I couldn't quite be certain how it all fit together. Even the presence of exotic almond-eyed Shannyn Sossamon (A Knight's Tale), who gets to play a Tarot-card reading nurse who woos Jake when Dakota goes down for the count, isn't enough to make Devour's second half any the more satisfying.

There are a few moderate bright spots, one being the always reliable William Sadler showing up during the final thirty minutes as a master of the black arts who has an inkling who might be behind The Pathway, the other being the leftover-from-Legend demon costume that trods through a few of Jake's visions. Winkler, following the letter of the Adam and Seth Gross screenplay, and seems to lose his way about midway through as the plot meanders, making the dark against-the-grain payoff a challenge to reach with any sense of involvement.

I can generally handle a we're-attractive-20-somethings-who'll-get-killed-off-one-by-one horror film when I need to if the story seems remotely comprehensible, and I can even muster the wherewith all to stomach a pointless script if I can develop even a threadbare attachment to any of the characters, neither of which I could develop to with Devour, despite an ending that would normally be right in my wheelhouse. Maybe it's the ghosts of 976-Evil that are clouding my acceptance, but William Sadler and Shannyn Sossamon notwithstanding, there just isn't much here.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is decent, though it comes a bit short when it comes to shadow detail, when things get slightly muddy. Daylight and well-lit interior sequences hold up well, with color accuracy remaining consistent and appearing fairly natural. The print seems very clean, with no trace of debris or specking.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Only one audio choice here, and it's a standard issue English 5.1 Dolby Digital track, offering the obligatory clean dialogue. There is some marginal directional movement across the fronts, and the rears get some occasional use, but overall the mix doesn't offer any exemplary audio polish to make Devour more engaging.

Audio Transfer Grade: B- 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
7 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Cave, Boogeyman, Wild Things: Diamonds In The Rough, xXx: The Director's Cut, Chupacabra Terror, Vampires: The Turning, Frankenfish
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The only extras here are a set of 7 assorted trailers, including the promising preview for The Cave. The disc itself is cut into 12 chapters, with optional subtitles into English or French

Extras Grade: D

Final Comments

My hackles automatically go up when a horror film uses an online computer game as the source of evil, and with Devour that's the payoff for this oddly paced Satan-gets-online project. I'll give credit to director David Winkler for sticking with an unconventional and dour climax, but the rest of film just seemed hopelessly lost.

Rich Rosell 2005-06-22