In the grand tradition of "homicidal video game" movies like Brainscan, Nightmares, and Arcade comes yet another one that's just about too silly for words. (And certainly too silly for a theatrical release.) Devour offers a cast of mildly familiar performers, each of whom do a fairly decent job of trying to bring some sense to the malformed affair. For the most part, they fail.
Jensen Ackles (Lana's hunk from Smallville) is a computer techie college student named Jake who hangs out with a pair of loyal malcontents. His best pal Conrad (a Canadian actor who apparently goes by the name of "Teach") gives Jake a creepy-looking computer game as a birthday present ... and the movie promptly slides off the rails and never looks back.
You know how the overuse of dream sequences can suck all the danger and intensity out of a horror movie? They're a shameless "cry wolf" technique that help a filmmaker to deliver lots of sudden jolts and gory murders ... without actually committing to a specific plot direction!
"Oh no, so-and-so was just slashed to pieces! But wait, no, it was just a feverishly violent fantasy brought on by a satanic video game! Whew."
"Oh, now someone else just got sliced up but good. Now, um, did it really happen or was it just another dimly-lit fantasy sequence?"
By the time Devour hits its midway point, you won't have a clue what's going on, and (more annoyingly) you just won't care.
Red-blooded horror hounds who have an eye for the lovely ladies might find enough to keep themselves entertained here. Both Shannyn Sossamon (A Knight's Tale) and Dominique Swain (Lolita) do the best they can with the material they're given, but end up as not much more than eye-candy stuck in a sea of aimless gore and maddeningly vague plot droppings.
One could accurately argue that Devour is noticeably better than most of what falls out of the direct-to-video horror pipeline these days, but that's hardly any sort of enthusiastic recommendation. Devour delivers a skimpy and familiar old story by way of confusing dream sequences and sudden jolts of gore that, when all's said and done, feel a whole lot like storytelling cheats and shortcuts. I did enjoy the creative moments of physical nastiness (it's not too often you see a guy take a scissors to his own tongue), but without a firm and cohesive story in which to plant your blood-bursts - you're left with three or four bits of high-end grue surrounded by a whole lot of white noise.
Video: Widescreen Anamorphic (1.78), and I will admit that the transfer looks pretty darn crisp & clean. Not that it matters all that much when you're yawning every nine minutes.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, with optional subtitles in French & English. Nothing to blow your doors off, but certainly good enough.
Extras: Trailers for Sony flicks Wild Things: Diamonds in the ROugh, The Cave, Boogeyman, xXx: Director's Cut, Chupacabra Terror, Vampires: The Turning, and Frankenfish.
When you spend as much time as I do digging through just about every horror release you can get your hands on, you learn to spot a turkey pretty easily. But you also start to get a little more charitable to the genre fare that at least tries to do something different. Devour earns a few minor points for attempting to tell a relatively new type of story, but the end result is alternately silly and boring, despite the few stray moments of hyper-gory goodness.