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Review: Supernatural thriller ‘Devil’s Gate’ lurches from jolt to jolt

(L-R) - Amanda Schull and Shawn Ashmore in a scene from the movie “Devil’s Gate.” Credit: IFC Films
Amanda Schull and Shawn Ashmore in the movie “Devil’s Gate.”
(IFC Films)

An unusual, ungainly hybrid of “Wind River” and “10 Cloverfield Lane,” the supernatural thriller “Devil’s Gate” is only sporadically successful … though it is fascinating to try to figure out just what the heck it’s trying to be.

After an opening sequence that plays like a backwoods horror film — with a man wandering onto a crumbling North Dakota farm and getting assailed by torture traps — “Devil’s Gate” shifts to an investigation of the crime, as FBI agent Daria Francis (Amanda Schull) arrives to help small-town Deputy Colt Salter (Shawn Ashmore). The pair visits the farmer, Jackson Pritchard (Milo Ventimiglia), and soon find themselves under siege, at the center of a confluence of oddity involving gangly monsters and Pritchard’s missing wife (Bridget Regan).

Writer-director Clay Staub and his co-writer Peter Aperlo don’t waste much of their tight running time. They throw something new onto the screen every few minutes, keeping the audience guessing while producing some genuinely spooky images.

But the connective tissue is too weak to hold the picture together. The dialogue in “Devil’s Gate” is mostly expository, and while the cast does its best, the characters feel more like sketchy outlines than real people. Worse, after a while, the movie starts to feel directionless, meant only to get the story to the next shocking moment or visually arresting tableau.

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Granted, it’s all pretty stimulating. But when the jolts subside, there’s not much for viewers to cling to, to steady themselves.

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‘Devil’s Gate’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes

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Playing: Arena Cinelounge Sunset, Hollywood

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