Movie Review: Suing the Devil (2012) (Not Rated)

The antichrist is served

Watch suing the devil is to witness the birth of a cult classic. Mark my words: one day you’ll see her in midnight theaters, and people, in all likelihood dressed as her favorite characters, will line up to see her just for the giddy thrill of mercilessly mocking her. Here’s a movie with a premise so flimsy, so poorly written, and so poorly acted that it reaches a wicked level of hilarity. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard at a movie that clearly wasn’t meant to be funny. The more I think about it, the more amazing it becomes that it was released, and before it was filmed, and before it was written, and before it was even conceived. If John JB Wilson is the industrious movie buff he appears to be, he’ll have his hands full at next year’s Razzie Awards.

This movie has to be seen to be believed. It tells the story of a penniless salesman from Australia named Luke O’Brien (Bart Bronson), who decided to take a new direction and began studying law at night school. He is a born-again Christian who became discouraged after his mother was killed by a drunk driver. Driven by his death and by the evils plaguing the world today, he decides to sue Satan for $8 billion. Miraculously (no pun intended), the lawsuit he files isn’t dismissed, and before long, Satan (Malcolm McDowell) himself is strutting into the courtroom dressed in a black shirt, black sports jacket, and sunglasses. sun, behind which are eyes that can turn yellow. He is not alone; with him is an entourage of lawyers, all of whom he handpicked not only for representing greedy and ruthless corporations like Big Oil and Tobacco, but also for being greedy and ruthless themselves.

The trial itself is a ridiculous series of vignettes so riddled with loopholes and technicalities that it’s a wonder it didn’t stop after the first day. The judge (Roslyn Gentle) says each line like a nervous babysitter scolding the kids for not finishing their dinner. Her favorite word is “rejected,” and while I’m not a lawyer, I don’t think she’s allowed to use it when the defense is making what appear to be legitimate objections. She is also an authority on yelling at people for making outbursts in her courtroom and oh how she loves her gavel. In most of it, she takes it at low angles directly in front of her desk, perhaps in an effort to make her look more imposing. During one of these shots, she hits her mallet, only for her to fall off the desk and out of the camera’s line of sight. Before moving on to a new scene, she turns and stares blankly in the direction she fell. An outtake foolishly left in the final cut, or an intentional moment of tension?

The trial turns into a global media frenzy and a political talk show, in which one of the commentators is Tom Sizemore, continually opines on the subject. Meanwhile, the pious O’Brien repeatedly calls witnesses to the stand, mostly ministers, in an effort to prove that Satan is who he claims to be, something the defense is trying to refute. In a pathetic effort to add drama to the story, writer/director Tim Chey has added a subplot in which he discovers that O’Brien’s wife, Gwen (Shannen Fields), has cancer. She has been seen coughing repeatedly, a sound that is often accompanied by melodramatic piano music. When O’Brien confronts her and they both begin to cry, the scene had the exact opposite effect on me. I suspect it will be the same for most audiences, even religious ones, because you see, religious people go to movies too, and just like non-religious people, they appreciate good performances.

With the exception of McDowell, who has had a long and relatively distinguished career, all of the actors in this film give performances that would not pass in an amateur high school production. Topping that list, Bronson. Someone has to sit him down, take him by the hand and tell him as lovingly as possible that he’s not an actor and that he needs to consider a new line of work. The same can be said for Kenny Epps, who plays Mr. Innocent, one of the many wry-named lawyers who represent Satan; he feigns a Southern accent so blatantly false that he is likely to outrage and offend all the populations of the American South. He doesn’t even seem to be having fun with the role of him, which I think would have helped a lot.

The only one who seems to be amused is McDowell, probably because, as a professional actor, he was the only one with enough sense not to take the film seriously. That still raises some questions, namely why he agreed to participate and how he could share credit as one of the producers. Exactly what was it about? suing the devil What inspired you to finance it? I’m not looking at this from a religious angle; Frankly, I don’t know what his religious beliefs are. But surely he must have been aware of how incompetent this project was. Only a movie like this would truly end with a plot twist, and not just any plot twist, but quite possibly the most infuriating dodges in the history of narrative lore. You probably think you’ve seen bad movies before. Let me assure you, until you see this movie, you have no idea how bad it is.

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