11th Aug2012

‘Devil Riders’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Robert Thorne, Jasmine Waltz, Bertie Higgins, J.D. Rudometkin, Debra Hopkins, Jay Wisell, Ryan Caldwell | Written by Bertie Higgins, Julian Higgins, Larry Madill | Directed by Julian Higgins

Devil-Riders

Originally released in the US in 2009 under the less sensationalist title of Poker Run, Devil Riders is the latest in a long line of films featuring ordinary members of the public put into extraordinary situations by more “nefarious” members of society – with definite shades of The Hills Have Eyes, Race With the Devil and even (at a stretch) Cape Fear, this is a case of survival horror flick meets Easy Rider.

Devil Riders follows Robert and Allen, two suburbanites who, tired of the everyday rat race, decide it would be cool to buy motorbikes and hit the open road with their wives on a “poker run” on Route 66, Making the mistake of looking for a cheap deal the duo buy a pair of bikes from a creepy dude named Ray (Thorne).

What they don’t know is that Ray stole the bikes and their previous owners are now dead at the hands of Ray and his brutish cohorts. After running into Ray at a bar (one of the many stops on their poker run) and getting into a bar brawl, the duo and their wives are convinced by Ray to take a trip off the beaten path. Ending up at a deserted motel, Ray and his cronies kidnap the wives, leaving a trail of deadly clues for Robert and Allan to solve if they’re to ever see their wives again – dead or alive.

Co-written and starring former singer Bertie Higgins (remember Key Largo? No? Me neither) and helmed by his son Julian, the first thing you’ll notice about Devil Riders is just how good it looks! Belying its low-budget origins, the film looks, feels and even sounds like it was made on a multi-million dollar budget; and that’s the films strength – the sums of its part make for a substantial whole. Led by Bertie Higgins and J.D. Rudometkin as Robert and Allen the cast is uniformally excellent, especially given the amateurish acting often seen in low-budget independent features, and thanks to the strong acting on display many of the films more cliched aspects can easily be forgiven.

I say cliche, but who doesn’t like a tale of backwoods folk taking vengeance on stupid city folk in a gruesome and torturous manner? We’ve seen it all before and no doubt we’ll see it again – although I doubt half of those will be as good as Devil Riders. And this film doesn’t scrimp on the torture… Opening with a horrific display of Ray and co.’s delight in mutilating, dismembering and raping the film doesn’t really let up. But the film doesn’t just rely on graphic physical torture, it also mixes things up with a more psychological torture, suggesting just as much as it shows. Which is remarkably refreshing.

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