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The Devil's Ground (aka The Cycle) - horror DVD review
Rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 2 1/2 stars
Actors: Daryl Hannah, Leah Gibson, Twan Holliday, Jeb Beach, Luke Camilleri, Daniel Probert
Director: Michael Bafaro   Distributor: Starz/Anchor Bay
DVD release: 19 May 2009   Runtime: 90 minutes (1 disc)
Format: Color, DVD-Video, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD features: Aspect ratio 1.78:1, Audio tracks (English - Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Trailers

First off, I am not going to BS anyone and say that The Devil's Ground is any kind of great cinematic achievement. If The Godfather is a perfect filet mignon with truffle butter sauce, The Devil's Ground is a Kit-Kat bar. It is what is. However, that doesn't mean that a Kit-Kat bar can't be pretty good and satisfy sometimes. It's not a good movie by any means, but there are some good moments, and it is clear that an effort was made to at least try to make a good slasher flick from worn-out material.

The plot: Carrie (Daryl Hannah), a woman driving alone through the isolated backwoods of Pennsylvania, nearly hits then rescues a traumatized young woman named Amy (Leah Gibson). While in the car driving for help, Amy tells her how a giant psycho terrorized and hunted her and four other environmental survey students who uncovered his gruesome secret. Carrie, to her horror, eventually learns that the nightmare is far from over...

Obviously, from the above description, there is nothing at all original about the plot. Nearly every cliché and stereotype in the horror movie guidebook is here: the isolated gas station run by a threatening inbred cretin (Twan Holliday - and no, I am not making that name up), the warning not to go into "dem dere" woods, the stock victims from Horror Movie 101 (the a-hole and his horny girlfriend, the "take charge" guy, the ditzy screamer, the wholesome heroine who is always the last girl standing) and the superhuman killer who is able to eventually off everyone save for the aforementioned last girl. Again, don't expect to be intellectually challenged here.

However, it is only fair that I also point out that this film has some good qualities and might be worth a rental for horror geeks. For one, old pro Hannah is obviously in this movie for a paycheck, yet she resists any urges to go over the top and makes her character realistic as well as sympathetic (Gibson, who basically carries the film as the last survivor, is decent overall but has a few moments of hamming it up which made me snicker). Second, there are a few good scares, such as the discovering of the horrible secret of the woods and a vehicle that starts unexpectedly. Third and best of all, I have to give it credit for a creepy little twist at the end that caught me off guard yet also made sense. Indeed, this well-done twist, which I don't dare give away, made the film worth seeing.

I obviously would not recommend The Devil's Ground to the Masterpiece Theatre crowd, but horror geeks (especially slasher fans) might enjoy it. Like I said, it's the movie equivalent of a Kit-Kat bar, but hey - sometimes that's what you're in the mood for.
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reviewed by Trent Daniel
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