We all have to deal with things we don’t want to. Taxes, the DMV, in-laws…you get the idea. But deep in Appalachian country, dealing with something you don’t want to may just be something much more gruesome than you could ever imagine. The Devil to Pay has come to collect and if time is money, it’s worth every cent.
The Devil to Pay originated as a seafaring term that referred to the most unpleasant task afforded to sailors; smearing pitch on the bottom beam of the ship. The term evolved over time to mean trouble as a result of a grave situation or obligation. Both iterations of this phrase perfectly describe the setting The Devil to Pay finds itself in. After the disappearance of her husband, Lemon, a struggling farmer in an isolated Appalachian community, must repay her husband’s debt to the oldest family on the mountain and their murderous biscuit-making matriarch in order to save her young son’s life. Lemon quickly finds out this debt is not so cut and dry. One seemingly simple task leads to a chaotic unraveling of unexpected events.
The overall atmosphere of this film is incredible. The wide sprawling shots of the mountains give the impression of life and beauty but the community in which The Devil to Pay takes place reeks of loneliness and despair. This mixture of elements creates an uncomfortable juxtaposition that makes the film that much more enthralling.
Danielle Deadwyler (The Watchmen) acts as a phenomenal anchor for a stellar cast. Deadwyler displays such strength and vulnerability and audiences will be rooting for her from start to finish. Along with Deadwyler is an equally strong ensemble cast. Tommy Runion (Catherine Dyer) was one part Stepford wife, one part mob boss, and all parts unsettling. Wade and Dixon Runion (Jayson Warner Smith, Brad Carter) were seedy yet likable. The entire cast offered something essential to this film and I thoroughly enjoyed the performances everyone had to offer.
The Devil to Pay is dark, gritty, and gripping. I am a fan of the dark backwoods southern horror tale and this film has clawed its way to the top of the heap. Perhaps one of the best things about this film is the many artistic details and subtleties. Writer/director duo Ruckus and Layne Skye should be immensely proud of their finished product and I hope they have their next barrage of projects planned and lined up.
The Devil to Pay is coming to select drive-in theaters October 2 and to VOD October 6. For all fans of a good ‘n’ bloody southern gothic film, this one is DEFINITELY not to be missed. If you miss out… there will be The Devil to Pay.
8 out of 10