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The Device

Year: 2014
Production Co: The October People
Director: Jeremy Berg
Producer: Jeremy Berg
Writer: Jeremy Berg/John Portanova
Cast: Angela DiMarco, David S Hogan, Kate Alden

Part X Files episode, part familial drama and with not quite enough sci-fi to be what it wants, The Device is a strange beast that has ideas and aspirations higher than it can really reach given the budget and script.

You can see plenty of rough edges in everything from the performances to the special effects, but it's a worthy attempt to tell an alien invasion/abduction story by grounding it with character with real problems and real history.

Abby (Angela DiMarco) and her fiance Cal (David S Hogan) pick her estranged sister Rebecca (Kate Alden) up from the bus terminal, giving us just enough information to know that it's been a long time since the two girls have seen each other and that there's some dark incident in their past that prompted the long absence.

After the trio awkwardly tries to get along, they all drive to a lake house to spread the ashes of the girls' dead mother where she always wanted. But it's in an emotional moment during the stay where Rebecca has left the cabin and Abby goes to find her that they find a strange round metal ball in what looks like the crater of an aircraft crash. It also emits a hidden blade that cuts Abby's hand as she holds it – never a good sign – and there's no prize for guessing it injects her with something.

While Abby and Rebecca continue to either expose or paper over whatever happened between them, they all go home where Rebecca is going to live with the couple while she finds her feet.

The device – which a fascinated Cal has bought home – seems to have properties that defy the laws of physics. And while she freaks out about that, Abby starts having eerie nightmares where a blinding light emanates from the next room and a tall, gnarled figure appears to her.

After Cal grows more obsessed and the scabs of the girls' relationship start to lift, the truth finally comes out about what happened to Rebecca and the boyfriend they all thought kidnapped and raped her, but it's more incredible than anyone can believe.

The whole thing (if you read the back cover of the DVD) is about an impending alien invasion, but little to none of that is apparent on screen. In fact without a few glimpses of an animatronic creature/tall skinny guy in a suit, it might as well just be about three people who find something that happens to be magic rather than alien.

Everyone in front of and behind the camera tries hard, but there's a bigger, better-acted and written story somewhere that The Device doesn't manage to portray.

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