Devil's Gate is the debut feature from Clay Staub, who has worked on the Dawn of the Dead and The Thing remakes as well as 300.  It follows an FBI agent named Daria (Amanda Schull) and a local officer nicknamed 'Colt' (Shawn Ashmore) in a small country town, Devil's Gate. The two are tasked with investigating the disappearance of the wife and son of unhinged local Jackson Pritchard (Milo Vertimigila). Officer Colt reluctantly agrees, when pressed by Agent Daria, to delve deep into the case, uncovering a twisted set of discoveries.

This enigmatic set up has been tirelessly milked in the horror and thriller genres to varying results. But Devil's Gate is no Gone Baby Gone, rather than a tangled conspiracy of lies and deceit the film's plot descends into campy chaotic horror. Whilst the script fails to inspire great, acting, writing and tension, it does provide a stream of madness that is entertaining for all of the wrong reasons. From the beginning we are treated to over-the-top gore, obvious expository dialogue and incomprehensible plot turns. Whilst from the synopsis, it may seem a pretty standard fare, Devil's Gate is anything but. It is a full-power-ahead thrill ride that takes it's self ridiculously seriously which only adds to its unintentional humor.

First off, its cast, the leads of the movie Ashmore, Vertimiglia and Schull are well established TV actors. Vertimiglia has shown incredible promise in shows like Gilmore Girls and more recently This is Us. Whilst he does the best with the script he is given, it is still not enough to make the dialogue any less ludicrous. Ashmore has starred in the X-Men Franchise, yet due to an unconvincing southern accent it is hard to take anything he says seriously.

A lot of horror films were cursed with poor acting and still managed to be effectively terrifying: The weight lies upon the shoulders of the lead, who should sell the film and communicate the terror to the audience.  Yet Schull's FBI Agent is seemingly unfazed by what would be life changing revelations to any normal person. In fact, most of the cast have underwhelming reactions to catastrophe after catastrophe. Including a truly misguided instance where a supernatural being is dealt with in a fist fight. The real scope of the premise seemed to be crippled by the budget as these types of choices plague the film throughout.

However, though executed poorly, there is an interesting premise buried deep in the film. The main crux of the movie deals with how unexplainable happenings could be taken by religious individuals as signs from God. Without spoiling the movie, I couldn't help but admire some of the ambition of the plot. Though this ambition really doesn't work in the film's favor. Countless scenes could have been easily changed to give the film a actually horrifying atmosphere. It could have raised an interesting topic and preyed on fears of the unknown. Instead a lot of what could have been great concepts are jumbled into a convoluted mess. I wouldn't call the movie a waste of time, however, because it really isn't quite that.

What Devil's Gate has going for it, which definitely wasn't the initial intention, is an incredibly entertaining nonsensical experience. Like so many horror classics before it, where it fails in being scary or dramatic, it succeeds in being balls to the wall, batshit enthralling. I was not bored a single moment, and actually laughed more than in most recent comedies. With every twist and turn being crazier than the last, every moment of potential terror being undercut by cheesy dialogue and questionable delivery. There is tons of things that will stick with the viewer.

Furthermore, there are a few things to genuinely admire about the film. The use of practical effects for aspects of the film was very welcomed in this CGI heavy landscape. Though not fear-inspiring these practical effects looked surprisingly convincing.  Though never far from a B-Movie moment, some of the set pieces were commendably creative.

The movie will not win critical praise, but to the right audience it can provide an unforgettable experience. Devil's Gate could be overlooked as just another low budget horror with little to offer. But I assure you, you will not have seen a film like it whether that is a good thing or a bad thing.

Horror is always pushing the boundaries of taste. Without a doubt this film continues to redefine what a great movie going experience can be without actually being a good movie.

Catch Devil's Gate June 1 on VOD in the UK.