J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Devil’s Whisper on DVD

The evil one has a real grudge match going with fifteen-year-old Alex Duran. He sent his minions or whatever hard after Duran about a decade ago, but the boy basically wriggled out of it by repressing his memories. Subsequently, he decided to become a Catholic priest, so he would totally count as a double word score. Duran’s life and faith are very definitely on the line in Adam Ripp’s Devil’s Whisper (trailer here), which releases today on DVD.

Duran’s family is reasonably well off and he is relatively popular, despite obviously being a bit of a naïf. Unfortunately, everything changes when they receive a shipment of his recently deceased grandmother’s furniture. Duran finds the crucifix his grandfather used to wear hidden in a mysteriously sealed wooden box tucked away in a secret compartment of her armoire. That would be the same grandfather whose sexual abuse Duran repressed. As soon as he puts it on he becomes a lightning rod for demons (or what have you), mumbling discouraging comments about God and the Church.

By deceiving Duran’s eyes, the evilness tricks him into acting like a real jerk around his friends, especially including Lia, the platonic pal he wants to start seeing romantically, even though he is seriously considering those vows of celibacy. His parents assume he needs a head-shrinking tune-up, but Father Cutler recognize the work of the Devil, especially when his minions induce a mild stroke in the priest.

Ripp and co-screenwriters Oliver Robins and Paul Todisco are as serious as a heart attack when it comes to questions of good and evil. Like every really effective demonic horror film, Whisper is profoundly Catholic, but it is hamstrung by a weak lead. Frankly, the most compellingly watchable character is Father Cutler, played with steeliness and compassion by TV veteran Rick Ravanello. Clearly, Ripp conceived Whisper as an inclusively diverse horror movie, which is all very good, but the Robert Conrad-looking Ravanello is the best thing going for it.

Aside from belatedly introducing the apocryphal Book of Enoch as a reference point, Whisper is a pretty standard issue possession film. Jasper Polish (daughter of director Michael Polish) gives Lia some energy and edge, but the rest of Duran’s cronies are a pretty bland lot. Frankly, Whisper probably would have been a better film if it had focused on Father Cutler’s efforts to save his young protégé and sometime translator, but this is what we have. Just okay, Devil’s Whisper is now available on DVD.

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