Bohemian Industries’ short film Kiss the Devil in the Dark is an eye-popping visual feast that blends a dark Faustian fantasy with shades of classic Hammer Film Productions and Eurohorror vibes. Fans of practical creature effects will find plenty to enjoy here, as well, with the legendary Doug Jones on hand in dual roles.
The short film takes place during “the third age of darkness . . . a time of betrayal, a reign of demons, an age of magic,” according to the opening titles. It is in this world that sorcerer Marcus (Dameon Clarke) bargains for the life of his beloved wife Vanessa (Sonya Macari) with the demon Dagon (Doug Jones). Dagon wants Marcus to deliver four souls of his choosing, which the latter reluctantly agrees to, before seeing his wife descend into Hell until the bargain is finished.
Two years later, Marcus invites his servants Terrance (Jones), Lilly (Amrita Acharia), Sara (Amy Lia), and Edgar (Jake Stormoen) to witness as members of Marcus’ sorcerers’ guild (Johnny Call, Gary Reimer, Rick Macy, and Brian Higgins) – “keepers of secrets long forgotten by mankind” – gather together to try and rescue Vanessa. The ensuing good vs. evil showdown is a blast, with striking practical makeup effects from Chris Hanson and crew; impressive visual effects from Tempered Pixel, TML Studios, Johnny Bones, and Adam C. Sager; and superb costume design by Rachael Domingo.
R. Jason Ball’s cinematography is top notch, and the set design by Domingo and Missy Scarbrough gives him plenty of beauty with which to work. The Dark Elk, the house where most of the story takes place, is adorned in captivating gothic design, and the depths from which Dagon and his helpers rise is stunningly rendered. Gerrit Wunder’s classical score is bewitching.
The brother-and-sister team of Jonathan and Rebecca Martin co-directed from a screenplay by Rebecca Martin, Blake Casselman, and Josh Andersen. The Martin siblings, who also worked together on Creatures of Whitechapel, do a sensational job helming. The 29-minute short moves along at a brisk, exciting pace, with imaginative shots and visuals. The story delivers suspense and drama galore in its exploration of betrayals, love, loss, and friendship.
The cast is delightful throughout, with Jones getting an opportunity to show off his chops both with practical effects makeup and without. He is splendid in both roles. Clarke is solid, especially in his initial scenes as a grieving husband. All of the other players deserve praise for their performances, as well.
Kiss the Devil in the Dark is on its film festival run, where it has consistently been earning awards and nominations. The short is scheduled for public release later this year.
(4.5 / 5)