Jessie Seitz is a Midwestern indie filmmaker that I have been keeping my eye on for awhile now. Jessie is an absolute badass who lives and breathes film, writing and directing her own projects, working on and promoting others films, plus working at an Arthouse theater and hosting horror screenings. Being an aspiring Midwestern filmmaker myself, Jessie has long been an inspiration for me and I’ve been looking forward to her debut feature Devotion for some time now. Well, the time has finally come. I have seen Devotion. Read on for my thoughts.
Devotion is the debut feature from writer/director Jessie Seitz. The film stars Haley Madison, Jadie Marie, Linnea Quigley, Victor Bonacore, Josh Miller, Kate Davis, Samantha Voorhees, Erin Brown, Tobi Rice and Erin R. Ryan. The film follows a young woman who is reeling from the recent suicide of her best friends. While investing their deaths, she stumbles on a mystery that just may be her undoing.
Devotion is a very experimental film, influenced heavily by the films of Jean Rollin, among others. The film has an overall dreamlike quality that makes it hard to follow at times as well as hard to know what’s real and what’s in the protagonists head. This intercuts the journey of its lead as she investigates the final days of her friend with the films of an avant-garde filmmaker as well as the filmmakers home movies. The more she finds out, the fewer things make sense and the more she loses her grip on what’s real and what isn’t. The film mixes a dreamy vibe with nightmarish visuals poised to leave audience unnerved.
Haley Madison does a great job here in her first lead role, holding her own and playing well off of genre veteran Linnea Quigley. Their interaction ratchets up the uneasiness with awkward pauses and silence, which is set to explode into madness at any second. I’ve been a fan of Linnea every since I saw her in Return of the Living Dead on Monster-Vision when I was in grade school and I can honestly say that she has never made me more uncomfortable than she does here. I definitely wouldn’t want to be stuck in the same room with her character.
The supporting cast of indie horror veterans, most of which don’t have a line of dialogue, do a wonderful job making their brief moments of screen time uncomfortable to watch. I watched Devotion twice now and I still don’t understand everything but its a film not meant to be easily digested. It rewards you on subsequent viewings with more and more pieces of the puzzle.
Devotion is a surreal, trippy and unnerving film that isn’t easily understood and open to interpretation. The film contains multiple layers, which are slowly unraveled, even more so on repeat viewings. If you enjoy the films of Jean Rollin and Jess Franco, be sure to give Devotion a shot when it’s released.