This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labour of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie being covered here wouldn't exist.
Among the plethora of talented indie filmmakers in horror right now, The Adams Family are one of the most exciting. Made up of mother, father, and daughters Toby Poser, John Adams, Lulu Adams and Zelda Adams, the family unit not only make some truly captivating genre films, but they soundtrack them too with music from their own band Hellbender.
Following their hit productions The Deeper You Dig and Hellbender, the family has pushed themselves further than ever before with the putrid pageantry of Where The Devil Roams, a bloody homage to the late great monster movie Frankenstein brought into the 21st century.
The vaudevillian thriller follows the Adams clan as a murderous family of sideshow performers, including mute daughter Eve (Lulu Adams), bloodthirsty mother Maggie (Toby Poser), and former veteran Seven (John Adams) who struggles with deep-rooted trauma triggered by blood and violence. Set in Depression-era America and travelling the dying carnival circuit, Eve stumbles upon the key to eternal life at the cost of a person's soul.
Where The Devil Roams plunges viewers into the depths of despair of post-World War I America with grainy, desaturated shots punctuated with lashings of gore and a hair-raising, metal dirge that sets the tone for the picture. Hope permeates through the darkness through the film's central characters and their fellow circus performers as they hit the stage each night to revitalise their dying art with curious and macabre acts.
Jarring contradictions run throughout the film, whether it be Maggie's predilection for violence contrasted against her husband Seven's weak stomach at the sight of blood, or Eve testing the balance of life and death while bringing her parents back from the grave after they are bludgeoned to death. The film itself is very much one of two halves, with the first following the family as they kill their way across the States, and the second as Eve perfects her sewing skills patching her beloved mom and dad up to hit the stage.
While often fun and packed full of comedic moments and dazzling performances, Where The Devil Roams curiously ponders on how far a person would go to save the ones they love, or to achieve fame and fortune, wrapped in a Frankenstein-esque story chasing the ideal human body. The film is chock full of violence and blood-curdling scenes of killing, interspersed with touching, heartfelt interactions between the family reminiscent of the sheer love and respect The Adams Family clearly have for each other and the art of filmmaking.
John, Toby, and Lulu deliver magnificent performances in their leading roles, with Sam Rodd as Mr Tibbs similarly captivating as his evocative poems bring to life the damning deal with the devil he, and in turn, Eve, make to receive their life-altering powers. The characters they play tie in perfectly with the grim aesthetic of the film and the lawless nature of the narrative, creating a thrill ride of murder and mayhem with a circus backdrop.
With an epic soundtrack, detailed visuals, and gritty cinematography, The Adams Family once again showcase their multitude of talents in this bloody, theatrical number that is sure to win the hearts of many horror fans.
Where The Devil Roams had its European premiere at FrightFest 2023 on August 25.