‘Bedeviled’ and other films.
Bringing new meaning to the phrase “killer app,” the monster movie “Bedeviled” imagines a malevolent version of Siri coming to life to scare teenagers to death. What ensues is a competently made take on the slasher picture, but never as cutting-edge as the premise promises.
Brothers Abel and Burlee Vang wrote and directed “Bedeviled,” combining the technophobia of ’90s Japanese ghost stories with the “attractive youngsters get murdered” dynamic of ’80s scream-fests. The movie also has a sprinkle of Stephen King’s “It” in that the villain often appears in clown makeup.
Jordan Essoe provides the voice and occasionally the face of Mr. Bedevil, the bow-tie wearing mascot of a voice-activated helper application, providing recommendations based on detailed personal knowledge of the user’s preferences. After a circle of high school friends downloads the app, it begins using their personal data as a weapon against them, learning what they most fear.
Saxon Sharbino plays the film’s primary heroine, and while she gives a solid performance, she and her fellow cast mates are hamstrung by a script that follows a predictable progression. The Vangs mostly lurch from one set piece to the next.
“Bedeviled” ultimately embraces clichés rather the subverting them. The evil technology’s up to date, but the storytelling’s too oldfashioned.
“Bedeviled.” Rating: R, for terror, language and some sexual material. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. Playing: Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena.
SAXON SHARBINO plays a teen who finds herself and friends at the mercy of their computers/phones.