A lone ranger by the name of Shadrach enters the little Wild West-style community of Celestial after assassinating a group of men on a list given to him by his boss. Taking a drink at the local bar, he comes to the attention of McDermitt, a big beast of a man who intimidates the locals and kills anybody he dislikes. The two get into a brawl, with Shadrach getting the upper hand. Shortly after another stranger wanders into town, a smart elder gentleman by the name of Louise who informs the locals that Shadrach works for him and must do as he is told otherwise the whole town will pay the price. Unwilling to co-operate, Louise leaves and unleashes hell on Earth as the undead rise from their graves…
Devil’s Crossing is meant to be set in the future, when the world has been scorched by nuclear warfare. The survivors have banded together in wild west style settlements. None of this backstory is ever mentioned in the film, which caused me to question why the characters were so badly costumed, wearing printed t-shirts and caps that aren’t synonymous with Wild West times. This information is an important element to the film which can hinder viewing if unaware.
Shadrach is a talented gunslinger played by Michael Sharpe, who’s history haunts him as his mystique catches the eye of the locals of the little town of Celestial, in particular the brutish McDermitt. Sharpe plays Shadrach subtly with just enough charisma to make him a believable character you can root for.
Patrick G. Keenan shines as Louise, an aid of Lucifer’s who plucks the souls of the living and commands the undead. Shadrach works for Louise and gave his life to collecting souls in exchange for revenge against the murderers who killed his beloved wife and children. Patrick fits the wicked role perfectly as he sits at the bar, controlling the presence and instilling intrigue with his engaging Southern drawl. Without doubt he steals the show from the rest of the cast and is one character I’d like to have seen more of.
The rest of the cast are a bit wooden in their roles but serve merely as pawns in the game played by Shadrach and Louise. The majority of the town congregate in the local bar which also doubles up as a brothel, where the flirtacious young women entertain the gentlemen upstairs. The town’s Sheriff is in his office where he shoots heroin on what appears to be a regular basis after loosing his wife and child in times gone by. The Sheriff and the residents live in fear of the McDermitt’s, one of who was hanged the previous week before Shadrach entered the town. Shadrach’s arrival and the way in which he deals with the surviving McDermitt instills hope in the hearts of the community. That is until Louise arrives and reawakens Celestial’s dead.
Towards the end of the film we are treated to a bit of a splatterfest when the citizens of Celestial are under attack by the undead. A mixture of CGI, squibs and other visual FX are used to create some pretty cool and gory action for a low budget flick such as this. Wielding an axe and a katana, Shadrach slices, dices, decapitates and penetrates the zombies with his sharp weapons. Horror fans rejoice! The camera does not cut away at these scenes, instead we get to see the full impact of Shadrach’s blows in all their bloody delight. Downstairs in the bar area, the townsfolk shoot at their enemies and some cool headshots are to be admired, especially one that splashes blood over the camera lense.
Unlike many films these day who opt for the shakey cam, Devil’s Crossing is a standard shot film with some fantastic camera angles from behind characters as well as close-ups and panning shots. I miss this type of filmmaking and I’m so glad that the director, James Ryan Gary, chose to shoot this way. The film is edited well, with very few fast cuts except where the action ramps up with a suitable score attached.
Whilst this film doesn’t have the best script, it’s a film that has passion for genre cinema and tries, especially in the later scenes. Think Shaun of the Dead meets John Wayne’s westerns, sprinkled with a wicked villain in the shape of Louise. A flawed but mildly enjoyable, western zombie splatterfest.
Available at Amazon