Where the Devil Roams, A Horror Movie Review

Where the Devil Roams

A family of murderous sideshow performers travels around the world on the dying carnival circuit.

Initial release: 27 July 2023

Directors: Zelda AdamsToby PoserJohn Adams

A Horror Movie Review by Hope Madden

There is macabre beauty in every frame of Where the Devil Roams, the latest offbeat horror from the Adams family.

The film was co-directed and co-written by its three lead actors – Toby Poser, John Adams and Zelda Adams – who are also a family. The same team made last year’s Hellbender and 2020’s The Deeper You Dig, among others.  

Like their earlier efforts, Where the Devil Roams concerns itself with life on the fringes, rock music, and the family dynamic.

Their latest follows a sideshow act, a family. They perform unusual songs sung by their daughter Eve (Zelda Adams), who is, outside of these songs, entirely mute. But the act isn’t bringing in much lately, and as they move from town to town, sometimes Maggie’s temper or sense of justice means blood – even limbs, on occasion – will be spilled.

The family’s lived-in quality benefits the film. As they move from farmhouse to farmhouse, sideshow to riverbend, their tics and quirks meet acceptance born of familiarity. It not only anchors the bizarre nature of the film in authenticity, but creates a tenderness that makes you root for the family no matter their actions.

Poser continues to be a force. She compels your attention, carving out a character that’s vulnerable and strong, insecure, brutish and tender.

The ensemble convinces, particularly the sideshow performers, but the film’s most enduring charm is its vintage portrait look. It’s a gorgeous movie, the filmmakers creating the beautifully seedy atmosphere ideal to the era and setting.

Where the Devil Roams feels expansive and open, but like anything else in the sideshow, that’s all trickery. There’s more happening in this film than they let on, which is why the final act feels simultaneously “a ha!” and “WTF?!”

You won’t see it coming, but in retrospect, it was there all along.

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  • Jim Mcleod

    Jim "The Don" Mcleod has been reading horror for over 35 years, and reviewing horror for over 16 years. When he is not spending his time promoting the horror genre, he is either annoying his family or mucking about with his two dogs Casper and Molly.

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