“Sheitan” – Chris Luedtke

It isn’t easy to make a good horror movie anymore. It’s even less easy to make a good horror movie about “demonic pacts” and “ritualistic practices.” The horror scene has managed to desensitize the majority of us that watch these films enough, making that which was once disturbing just another passing thought. The idea that someone could possibly make a pact with the Devil becomes absurd because it’s always in the back of our minds that these films come from the human mind, which is arguably limitless but always familiar.

That being said, Sheitan isn’t scary or really even imaginative. A group of easily dislikeable young characters meet at a club, venture out into the French countryside, and end up spending some time at a house owned by a man named Joseph (Vincent Cassel). While the characters mope around, complain, and try to get laid, they also become involved in a demonic plot involving their host.

This film is just flat-out boring. There’s nothing to be had by the time it all ends because the finale is sadly summarized during the main parts of the film. Hard to imagine, I know, but due to the amount of unnecessary crap, the film just manages to summarize what’s going to happen in the end early on. Perhaps that’s what the front cover meant when it said “…needs to be seen to be believed.” Nothing in here needs to be seen to be believed. Most of it can be explained by some other unfortunate soul who already saw this.

The strides Sheitan makes in an attempt to be disturbing often come off as amateurish. Most everything looks rundown and beaten-in as if the set design was taken from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and then lightened up a bit. The few scenes where there is blood or violence really don’t stand out. The only thing that I really took from the film was the disturbing birth scene; also note that that is the only disturbing scene of the entire film. The ending doll modification I saw coming ten minutes in.

The characters are disturbingly annoying, but that’s really not a difficult feat to pull off. Vincent Cassel may be a talented actor and does a decent job as Joseph, but the script sucks, and instead of coming off as maddening as he should have, his character made me roll my eyes. Perhaps the film is just trying too hard. The rest of the characters fall to regular stereotypes that are common in Friday the 13th flicks. It’s a shame, because Sheitan is trying to perform something rather difficult – breaking the formula from the inside. Unfortunately, it fails miserably and trips over its own two feet.

Apparently, Sheitan is Kim Chapiron’s first film, and it could be considered good if one compares it to something along the lines Bill Cowell’s Dark Harvest 2: The Maize. Luckily, it’s not that bad, but it’s nowhere near the mark of good or even mediocre. If it’s horror night at your house, and Sheitan has somehow weaseled its way onto your list of movies to watch, take it off. Go rent another Asian horror film, because you’re bound to be ten times more satisfied with that (even though they’re all easily predictable).

Rating: ★☆☆☆

-Chris Luedtke

 

Read A.J. Hakari’s Sheitan review here.

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