Trust me, despite the title, Enter the Devil is completely clean! I just want to get that out of the way so we don’t have any pretenses. One has to check that in this day and age, because innocence is something that we don’t have much of anymore. Enter the Devil is actually pretty innocent—and that’s how I like it.
A cop named Jase—whose boss, the Sheriff, finds loathing in his mustache for some reason—goes out to a lodge to look for a man who disappeared coming into town. The Sheriff is up for reelection and doesn’t want any cases still open when the season rolls around. We already know from the opening that the man’s tire was blown out by a sniper rifle and that he was picked up and sacrificed by a group of hooded Latin-chanting cultists. Jase is friends with the lodge owner, Glenn, and has a thing with local employee Juanita. A group of hillbilly hunters—one a would-be rapist creep named Sam—finds the man’s burnt car and corpse, and, as they say, the plot thickens. Sam is bitten to death by snakes, Jase is killed when the cultists remove his brakes, and a pretty cult-investigator named Doctor Culver snuggles up with Glenn. A dumb twist ending takes place which is followed by a crazy, borderline hilarious follow-up that takes itself rather seriously.
I have this theory of a place that every man has in him called “the Psychic Laboratory”. The name is just something I came up with out of nowhere, and I think everyone is a little aware that they have such a place in them but they call it something else, or give it no name it all. The Psychic Laboratory is a room conceived by the mind where one can put their feet up and relax—absolutely relax, in ultimate comfort. There is no problem in the Psychic Laboratory that one does not want there; the reason my Laboratory is called a Laboratory is because it is where I go when I want to read, write, or experiment, and when I do experiment I experiment with my writing. One can access his or her Laboratory and what it means to them whenever they wish. The definition of the Laboratory is actually well-defined when Glenn is seducing Doctor Culver; “Good wine, good food, good friends…and a nice hot fire”. Enter the Devil is one of those horror films where the setting is the Psychic Laboratory. It’s comfortable and cozy, and you can put your feet up in it. There’s a good atmosphere; there are some shots of the lodge in the desert at twilight, and it brings a good chill to the viewer. There’s this scene I’m thinking of in particular that has this wonderful night shot. After we see the lodge from the outside, with bugs flickering lazily at the dim lamps that serve as the only light source on the entire landscape, flickering around the illumination like the grain on the film print, we go inside, where there are people idly sitting about, thinking or reading, all silently. It’s almost as if they know about the eeriness outside, the cult that awaits anyone who goes into the desert. This lodge is the last outpost against that hidden danger.
To me, isolation is relaxation, especially out in the middle of nowhere. I feel most at peace in a small, quiet hotel in the middle of a desert, or in a tent in a noiseless forest. Normally I feel peace at night. I guess eeriness is part of me, and I relax when I feel that strange chill at wondering what might be out there in the hushed gloom. That’s what Enter the Devil is like. Curiously, one of the lodgers, “Dave”, is played by Byron Quisenberry, the director of The Outing (1981), possibly the grandest of all Psychic Laboratory movies—it’s a film in which almost nothing happens, where there is pure creepy suspense that never pays off. That’s my favorite type of movie on a lonely night.
On those grounds, Enter the Devil should be watched into infinity. It’s truly a fantastic film, and although I’m sure the pampered elite of gore-hounds (don’t worry, I’m still with you, mark my words) would find it “boring”, I can recommend it to almost anybody. I will have no regrets doing so.