Christianity has been portrayed in two ways recently: cult-like and evil in films that aren’t fans of religion, and “the only way is the Lord’s way” in films like God’s Not Dead. The Devil Outside is doing the PR of Christ no favours as it falls into the category of the former. It is the second feature film for Andrew Hulme and centres around one young boy, Robert, played by Noah Carson in his debut film role. Robert has always been a devote Christian like his family have told him to be and followed the rules. A new preacher and a new boy have joined the church, both at opposite ends of the religious spectrum. Almost literally God and the Devil incarnated. When Robert finds a dead body in a forest he begins to question his faith.
Markus is played devilishly well by Daniel Frogson known for his roles on CBBC TV shows and the stage. He exposes Robert to the outside world, showing him pornography, getting him into fights and freeing his sexuality making him interested in girls much to the dismay of his mother; played by Keeley Forsyth, known for an older TV show Heartbeat and recently much smaller roles in films like Guardians of the Galaxy. She’s a cold character, completely devoted to faith and the word of God. She has a dead-behind-the-eyes look, but wants what she believes to be the best for her son. The mother is hands down one of the stand outs. She is evangelised by new preacher at the church David (Mark Stobart, Line of Duty and Skins). This barefooted ex-addict comes to their church to proclaim that the spirit is dead. He ends up changing the mother – much like how Markus changes Robert – but she falls further into Christianity. She bans science lessons for Robert at school and organises public displays to drive interest in faith.
There is one exceptional scene in this film after Robert discovers the dead body, which is a pretty tough watch. The church members take Robert’s discovery as a sign from God telling them that He is watching over them and is here to heal them. This leads to a plethora of confessions from members of the church about deeply private matters. There are some seriously good performances by the extras in this particular crowd scene.
The Devil Outside is let down in a couple of ways: Unfortunately, the central performance from Noah Carson lacks the same level of ability to convincingly perform the dialogue given to him as his co-stars. Even though he has a large role, he doesn’t have much in the way of dialogue, leaving it to his expressions to do much of the talking for him. The story also moves at a slow pace, which can occasionally be frustrating and make scenes feel like a slog despite their necessity in furthering the narrative.
The Devil Outside is a story of a kid’s over exposure to each end of the religious spectrum with some superb acting from (almost) all involved and some very dramatic scenes between characters. Along with some overly drawn out scenes and an ending that will leave a lot to be desired, the good isn’t accompanied without the bad; very much like what the film was going for in its message in religion, from what I can tell.