Devil's Peak (2023)

Devil's Peak (2023)

2023 98 Minutes

Crime | Drama

In North Carolina's Appalachian Mountains, eighteen-year-old Jacob McNeely is torn between appeasing his meth-dealing kingpin father and leaving the mountains forever with the girl he loves.

Overall Rating

2 / 10
Verdict: Awful

User Review

  • d_riptide


    2 / 10
    You know it kinda sucks as a movie reviewer when you actually have to PUT IN WORK to find something BAD to watch. 2023 has been decent this year for films, outside the Skinamarinks and Quantumania’s so I had to look a little outside the box with some prodding to find something Worst Of The Year worthy.

    I might’ve struck out because I found TWO; the first half of that equation is “Devil’s Peak”: a film based off another popular book that I assume is miles better than this.

    This is is easily one of the most pedestrian films I’ve seen this year: following the standard crime drama format with narrative bones of the plot plagued by thinly sketched characters, painfully simplistic story beats and a presentation that was screaming from the heavens for something more than the sum of its parts. On one hand, it knows what it wants to be and doesn’t try to be anything more than the sum of its parts and the heart of the film is about a character choosing integrity and using courage to break a violent cycle. But nothing about said cycle is anything different to what this formula produced half a million times already; it’s terribly tepid in the ways it goes through the motions and what’s meant to be a meditative look on the sweaty languor and apparent hopelessness of being stuck in a impossible scenario instead reeks of laziness and relies too heavily on coincidences.

    Rather than putting us in the characters shoes, it just repeats the same beats of the formula over again while unintentionally making it more depressing and uncomfortable and robbing us of any real tension or suspense the story could’ve had. Robert Knott’s script doesn’t really do much of anything to GIVE depth to what desperately needs it.

    On top of that, the desaturated, washed out visual aesthetic is eyerape, they barely make any use of the limited production design, I just realized how vastly underlit most of the film was, its use of violence strains credulity despite breaking apart the monotony in this R-rated movie and Ben Young’s sense of direction feels splotchy, aloof and somewhat detached; getting us from Point A to Point B but doing very little else to enhance the need or want for that to happen. The camerawork and editing are fairly basic stuff but nothing that really stands out all that well and the cast is utterly wasted on this material, despite Robin Wright and Jackie Earle Haley’s best efforts…..although the former specifically.

    Every once in a blue moon, you’ll find a pretty decent dialogue exchange and there’s nothing wrong with the pacing under any circumstances and the music is implemented well enough to the setting…..well, what little setting there is. But even with all of that, I was still bored.

    You know what this film reminds me of? The Devil All The Time; a film that also had an uncompromising, somber narrative amongst the rest of its dark production values except it did everything this film wanted to do BETTER. Ironclad cinematography and editing, bleak but euphoric atmosphere, gritty production design, bone-rattling music, phenomenal performances and a self-reflective story that not only has themes and morals to think back on but respects and pays back the audiences patience when the time calls for it. It wallows in misery but there’s a point behind it and it still gives you hope near the end.

    Try putting these two back to back and choose which one interests more, I guarantee you Devil’s Peak won’t live up to it.