Two hitmen arrive at the house of their target, ready to wait for him to come home from a show before they put a bullet into his head. In the target's absence, they stumble upon what can only be described as the rests of a black magic ritual. Soon the wait is over and the hitmen become the victims themselves.
"The Devil's Business" is a British 2011 movie that completely slipped under my radar, but which became known to me once Mondo Macabro released it in a DVD/blu-ray set. At first glance, this will remind you of another British 2011 movie that I personally didn't like very much, "Kill List", but "The Devil's Business" becomes a lot more obvious in its intentions shortly after things are starting to go awry.
Taking place during the night of a planned assassination, starting with the two hitmen waiting for their target in his own home. The hitmen, an old professional and a young man on his first hit, eventually get tired of waiting. The pro shares a strange story from one of his most memorable jobs which leaves his protégé slightly unnerved, when they suddenly hear a noise from outside. But it's not their target coming home. When they go investigate the sound, they take a look in the shed and discover something that looks like the aftermath of a sacrifice. They realize that something is off about this whole assignment, but before they know what to make of it, their target comes home. From here, the night is only getting darker.
At its best moments, "The Devil's Business" is a brilliant horror movie. Full of tension, atmosphere and intriguing characters. Not to forget that you are on the edge of your seat, wondering what's actually going on in that house and where it'll go from there. I had not expected to get into the movie as much as I did, and it's a testament to everyone involved that it succeeded when it did. Which, truth be told, was most of the time. But, the movie isn't perfect. There are a few moments that quickly took me out of the experience. They were small, seemingly harmless things, but for whatever reason they stood out and turned an otherwise excellent horror movie subpar.
What were these bad things that changed my mind so drastically? Honestly, you'd be surprised at how unsignificant they were. It was smaller things, like how sound was used and how it was edited in certain scenes, that took away a lot from otherwise intense moments. These moments aren't horrible, but for a movie that got me invested so heavily besides these, they stood out. Luckily I have still left the movie thinking about the great moments.
What "The Devil's Business" does so right is that it delivers a lot in a short period of time, while still remaining slow and brooding. Like classic greats it doesn't show too much, but certainly not too little either. Between a few great shock-ish moments (okay, if this was the '70s they'd be shocks) the movie also delivers quite a large chunk of well-written dialogue. My only issue with this was the thick accents that made a rather long story from the lead character a bit hard to follow at times. Though I did still understand it, which is important to note because of how much story is actually delivered in that bit of dialogue.
If you want something that feels like classic supernatural horrors, yet with a modern twist so that it doesn't come off as a homage, then I'd suggest "The Devil's Business". Other than a few moments that could have been executed better, this delivered way more than I had expected it to. I'll be sure to keep an eye out for future work of Sean Hogan - despite the fact that I didn't like his segment in the horror anthology "Little Deaths" (I found it to be the weakest out of the bunch). He redeemed himself with "The Devil's Business"!
Mondo Macabro's release comes packed with a whole bunch of interviews, commentary and behind-the-scenes footage which definitely makes this a worthy purchase for anyone looking to expand the collection.