The Devil To Pay (2020)

Director: Lane Skye, Ruckus Skye

Running Time: 87 Minutes

Starring: Danielle Deadwyler, Catherine Dyer, Jayson Warner Smith, Adam Boyer, Brad Carter, Luce Rains

My review of The Devil To Pay was first published at Bloody Good Screen.

Living in an isolated Appalachian community, Lemon (Danielle Deadwyler) has to look after her son alone, due to her husband’s disappearance. Things get worse when she’s summoned to see the cold-hearted matriarch of the mountain’s oldest family. To pay off a debt, she gives Lemon a task which threatens a decade’s old truce. If the task isn’t carried out, her son’s life is forfeited.

Acting as writers and directors, Lane and Ruckus Skye have crafted a quiet tale about legacy, and the lengths we take for our family. This is exemplified in both of the on-screen mothers; whose actions showcase how far they’re willing to go. Take Lemon, our protagonist. She’s a resourceful figure who keeps an eye out, intent on finding a solution. She just wants her boy to be okay, so when his life is threatened, she goes to newfound lengths to ensure that happens. No matter where the story takes her, you believe in every action she makes, and that’s thanks to Danielle Deadwyler’s committed performance.

She wouldn’t need to resort to such lengths were it not for Tommy Runion. As the head of her family, Tommy is intent on elevating their name, through whatever methods she can. This brutal nature is masked with a cheery disposition, and a willingness to discuss baking techniques. Catherine Dyer does good work in the role, conveying the cruelty lurking beneath her inviting tone. A special mention is deserved for Adam Boyer, who acts chilling just with a quiet word in one’s ear.

Whether the characters issues stem from a personal or political nature, it’s captured in engaging ways. Although, it’s difficult to shake how we’ve seen this story done better elsewhere, or the lack of tension within. There’s also a significant portion which takes place in a cult compound, and just feels like a needless diversion. In spite of this, the Skye’s have marked their feature directorial debut with a decent little thriller.