Film Review: The Devil’s Music (2008)

SYNOPSIS:

Award-winning feature film, which tracks the story of shock-rocker Erika Spawn

REVIEW:

Film covering the life, history and exploits of fictional heavy rocker Erika Spawn (Victoria Hopkins)  (formerly Angela Lee). Filmed in documentary syle, we are introduced to Erika, her music and her onstage and backstage lifestyle. As her former manager Eddie comments to the camera, we are shown bits, live shots and even pictures from her child hood while he explains this incredible personalityy and rock phenomena. Her latest Album “Body of a Whore” has reached No #1 and continuing with the flow, a number of friends, associates and acquaintances give their best behind the scenes commentaries about Erika and life on the road.  It’s a well shot telling of the events that far exceeds the crappy reality TV garbage shown today…. And it has a dark side!

As this documentary takes form, a number of things transpire. A fan named Stephanie Reagan is welcomed aboard when finding her way into the backstage dressing room before one of Erika’s performances. An instant friendship is formed and Stef becomes a part of the bands daily lives. Though as innocent as she comes across, there is a darkness about her that spills forward in a brooding manner. This friendship also proves to be the bands downfall ending with an onstage stabbing that is as eerie as anything I’ve seen. This incident leads to changes within the recovering Erika and a new obsession with Nostradamus and some old paintings that suggest a pop star named Robin Harris (a Boy-band reject) may be the anti-christ himself. This of course contradicts the goody goody wholesome image he portrays as he tries to unite the suffering world into dealing with there problems per his media marketing and gospel like songs. It is almost haunting in the realism of this idea, much like a dianetics cult feeling.

A number of things passed though my mind in watching this film. For one, I thought it was brilliant! I drank the koolaid and bought into the fiction they portrayed on screen. I’ve seen films that try to pull this off and fail miserably with a focus on being too media like. The Devil’s Music is as believable as any VH1 program I’ve seen but done in a cinematic way.

I was reminded of past films like Eddie and the Cruisers which also engaged me in a similar fashion. The music styling and persona had a bit of Hazel O’connors “Breaking Glass” with a touch of “The Fabulous Stains” .So where does the horror fit in this film and why is is being reviewed as such? The horror is subtle but thats its power as well. Make no mistake this is a music documentary. And even though Erika was showcased as highly controversial in the media’s with her punk- metal stylings they weren’t really the Alice Cooper level of horror.

However this fascinating rock star persona crosses into similar territories that Marilyn Manson once raised attention too. So we are taken on similar roads with the out pouring of media controversies and connections with horrific events. Other accounts suggest the haunting similarities to the Columbine Killings and the legendary exploits of Ozzy Osbourne The horror takes form in the way the events unravel. The onstage transformation of Reagan into a murdering obsessed fan. The transformation of Erika in abandoning her music to seek and directory Robin on camera in his own house and the eerie haunting tapes that emerge shortly after Erika disappears for good that reveal some elements of darkness that were never shown before. The footage reveal has touch of the Blair Witch creepiness that shows alot with alittle.

This film scores extremely high points for its engaging presentation, for its well directed mood changes, for its great music styling’s and for Erika’s believable performance. The camera shots are done tastefully with nice offsets, 3/4 shots, camera style changes and creatiuve positioning. Directed by Pat Higgins you’ll find an instant connection with the artist and the media frenzy surrounding her. Her stage performances are highly entertaining. Her prescence is felt and heard. And the darkness creep up on you in most unerving way.

It’s a film that echo’s modern culture with a touch of Bowie-ism and Plasmatics. Highly recommended on all counts, a gem to be experienced.!

The Devil’s Music (2008)

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