Seven Devils (2015), directed by independent film maker, Ben Rider, is a film consisting of seven vignettes that depict the Seven Deadly Sins. The film was screened at the Nevada International Film Festival and was awarded the Silver Screen Award.
In addition, Seven Devils has also won five awards at the Accolade Competition Film Awards, including Best Supporting Actor for Cornelius Geaney Jr and Best Supporting Actress of Julia Papp.
The film runs for 1hr 36 mins and is divided into seven isolated sequences, each translating a narrative featuring one of the Seven Deadly Sins: Lust, Wrath, Greed, Gluttony, Envy, Pride and Sloth. However, Rider appears to have misunderstood the definition for a number of the sins.
The sequence representing wrath does not depict a story of vengeance, but the tale of a man’s suicide. Gluttony, which is defined as excessive eating and drinking, is not present in the sequence dedicated to it, but instead shows recreational drug use by a priest. He also mistakes pride for vanity as the female character is so ashamed, not proud of her appearance, that she undertakes cosmetic surgery to improve it. Finally, the sequence on sloth is loosely conveyed through a negative representation of the homeless. In fact, this sequence’s focus appears to be lust rather than sloth.
Rider has shown an alternative, experimental style in previous works, including Aquarius’ Mule (2013) which is a short film with a montage aesthetic. This style is prevalent in some of the sequences in Seven Devils. These sequences have a poetic tone and communicate to the audience through its visuals. The final sequence depicting Sloth, which is the most distinct, contains no dialogue and has expressive imagery, soundtrack and editing, which successfully reflects the distressed mood.
Unfortunately, the latter of sequences with a more conventional and linear narrative are somewhat disjointed and stray from the original focus of the story. The film’s pace is also very slow at times and the story content lacks substance. There is no depth to the characters and dialogue is bland. In addition the performances are awkward, the acting is often wooden and the conversations do not flow naturally.
The technical aspects are also of a poor quality. The lighting is often overexposed or very dark and the camera work is shaky and distracting from the story. Edits in both image and sound is abrupt and at times clumsy – there are many shots where mistakes are made by actors with dialogue or actions that are evident. This gives the impression that the project was rushed.
Rider not only took on the role of director for the film, but also as the writer, producer, cinematographer and editor. Therefore, it seems possible that so many roles and responsibilities for one person meant that the production was disorganised and it is possible that Rider’s attention was not drawn to these blunders during production.
Although the quality of the image, sound and performances are amateur, it is apparent that there has been a bold attempt to create an alternative, poetic tone through an art house style approach of film making. The film would have benefited, were it a shorter length and had more crew involved to inject more skill and vision into the production.
Seven Devils Official Trailer