Devour (May 21/05)
Even when compared to other straight-to-video horror flicks, Devour comes off badly. There's virtually nothing here to hold our interest, something that's exacerbated by Adam and Seth Gross' increasingly cryptic screenplay.
The story revolves around a college student named Jake Cummings (Jensen Ackles), who - along with his friends Dakota (Dominique Swain) and Conrad (Teach) - finds himself drawn into "The Pathway," an online game that somehow transforms Jake's waking nightmares into reality.
Initially, Devour plays out like a far, far less enjoyable riff on David Fincher's The Game (Jake is introduced to "The Pathway" by a character named Conrad, for crying out loud), but it doesn't take long before the film becomes something entirely different (and not in a good way, either). As elements of Satanism and witchcraft start to creep in, there's no denying that Devour turns into an ordeal more than anything else. Director David Winkler (who, astoundingly enough, also helmed 1998's criminally overlooked Finding Graceland) imbues the movie with a sense of style that is presumably supposed to be disturbing and creepy, but instead comes off as obnoxious and irritating (was the drenched-in-red dream-cam really necessary?)
After enduring 85-minutes of senselessness and convoluted shenanigans, the viewer is rewarded with a resolution that doesn't make a lick of sense. And then there are the performances, which - while competent - are far from engaging; Ackles' Jake is bland and uninteresting, while Teach's Conrad is utterly and hopelessly annoying. The bottom line is that Devour just doesn't work, and it's hard to imagine anyone walking away from the film satisfied (this includes the folks responsible for making the movie).