Tonally uneven and dragged down by its 111-minute runtime, ‘The Devil Conspiracy’ wastes its potential when it takes itself too seriously.

While the movie industry is an ever-hungry machine looking to devour everything that crosses its covetous eyes, Hollywood has been surprisingly tame regarding Christianity. We don’t care about profaning ancient cultures to make shameful things such as Gods of Egypt, and it’s funny to think Marvel’s Thor is more well-known than the original Nordic divinity. However, even though the Bible is filled with stories ripe to explore through a fantasy gaze, we mostly only have fiction films with historical drama intentions, such as Noah. And when it comes to horror, the little-genre-that-could, we get stuck in some old exorcism narratives that sometimes feel like Vatican propaganda. Sure, Hollywood did try to turn 2010’s Legion into a franchise and failed spectacularly. Still, it’s somewhat surprising that movies like The Devil Conspiracy are so rare.

A quick glance at The Devil Conspiracy’s trailer reveals the movie is about Satanists stealing the Shroud of Turin and using Jesus’s DNA to clone the antichrist. It also involves Archangel Michael (Peter Mensah) possessing the body of a dead priest (Joe Doyle) to kick some devil-worshiping ass. By that synopsis alone, one could bet The Devil Conspiracy would either be the most entertaining movie of the year or a total bomb. Unfortunately, The Devil Conspiracy is both. Tonally uneven and with a pacing that gets dragged down by its 111-minute runtime, The Devil Conspiracy wastes its potential when it takes itself too seriously.

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Image via Samuel Goldwyn Films

Without spoiling the movie’s surprises, the first act of The Devil Conspiracy is one of the most insane cinematic experiences ever. Mixing action and horror, The Devil Conspiracy seems to embrace the campiness of its concept by cranking the madness all the way up. And while horror and action are two genres known for leaning a little too heavily on tropes, no other movie can claim to have a corpse possessed by an angel slowly walking away from an explosion. Watching The Devil Conspiracy while aware of its demented premise can be as fun as it sounds, and some specific scenes are so gloriously corny that they would perfectly fit a Sam Raimi movie. And just in case of doubt, that is a huge compliment.

That’s why it is sad to see The Devil Conspiracy overstaying its welcome and dragging out a script that should have had another round of polish. Because after an unhinged first act, the movie becomes more and more like your regular action flick, with just a little horror sprinkled all over it. The characters don’t have much to do, and the film revolves around the same elements until the credits roll. As a result, what could be a hysterical trip through some of the weirdest corners of Christianity becomes a boring story of good versus evil.

There’s a lot in favor of The Devil Conspiracy. There’s a surprising attention to detail, resulting in special effects that exceed expectations for such a film. Overall, the movie also has solid acting work that helps to elevate its simplistic characters. And they even got Mensah to play Archangel Michael, which is a testament to the movie’s high production value. Sadly, the story is stretched too thin for its own good. Maybe because it got a bigger budget than it needed.

B-movies are so beloved because they can make us laugh and cringe with disgust by using whatever tool they can afford. The Devil Conspiracy clearly has big funding, which might explain why it deviates from its B-movie calling and steps into the dangerous territory of blockbuster pretensions. It’s strange to say a movie that featured a bioengineered Jesus Christ is not crazy enough, but for most of its runtime, The Devil Conspiracy seems to be restraining its creativity in favor of something that could appeal to a larger public. It’s easy to understand the strategy, cinema is a business, and every producer must get those box office bucks. Still, if The Devil Conspiracy had let its wild approach to Christianity run free, it could have been much more memorable than it currently is.

Rating: C

The Devil Conspiracy comes to theaters on Friday, January 13.

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