Written by Old Bluffer 25th Jan 2009
This budget DVD somehow made it into our "to watch" pile as a result of one of Mouseburger's friends giving it to him. I intend to send him a copy of Frogs as revenge.
The version we watched is apparently the definitive "Director's Cut" of the movie, which as far as I can tell just means there is 50% more pretentious and tedious nonsense to sit through before it all reaches the inevitable and unsatisfying conclusion.
Essentially, all you need to know about this story is that it is set in Africa and is based on a possibly real legend of a demonic spirit who has the power to change shape and murder people. The spirit in this case is an unremarkable looking chap in a cowboy hat, who picks up victims by hitching a ride on an endless Numibian highway. This is all well and good, but the film is badly acted and, to put it quite bluntly, completely up its own arse. It tries desperately to set a particular mood, but just ends up being boring. This is a cardinal sin in my eyes, as even the dialogue is long winded but not quite poor enough to be amusing.
It tries to achieve cheap shock value due to the violent nature of the"devil's" murders and subsequent mutilations, but these don't make much sense in any context. The first death for example, is of a woman who unwisely picks up the Dust Devil when he is in his human form (which he remains in for most of the film, thus rendering his supposed ability to shapeshift a complete waste of time). The next scene jumps to him shagging her in her own house, after which he snaps her neck. He then spends what must be several hours mutilating her and decorating her bedroom with various cliched cabalistic markings. He must have far too much time on his hands going to all this effort, as he then proceeds to torch the place, so most of his handiwork will never be seen (but we are shown a gratuitous charred breast later on).
His other killings are less detailed, he hitches a ride with a (possibly gay) guy, who turns up in various dismembered pieces later on.
Anyway, you get the idea - this dude is not someone you want to give a lift to, as apart from being psychotic, he has some kind of magical powers which presumably make him hard to kill (ha, you'd think!)
Cut to the heroine of the piece, Wendy, who is just as unengaging as any other character in this bore-fest. She has recently dumped her husband (probably because of the ridiculous shell suit he was wearing) and of course ends up picking up the Dust Devil in her car, and then shagging him. He doesn't kill her immediately though, which we later find out is not for any deep reason, but purely on a whim as "he gets lonely sometimes".
Whilst all of this is going on there is some pointless bits where local police try and track the killer down, and he vanishes a bit to mess with Wendy's head.
There is another utterly pointless plotline showing Wendy's husband trying to track her down. [All of these scenes could be cut entirely, leaving a 40 minute film which is still rubbish, but at least doesn't take too much time to watch]
It is during this time that we learn there is a magical stick which a Dust Devil cannot cross, and he will freeze if he unwittingly tries to (hmmm... I wonder if that will be useful in the final scene...)
Finally the Dust Devil tires of Wendy's company (not surprising, she's not very interesting as has been previously noted). He starts ranting about how she wants to die really, like all his victims - and then starts caressing her with an unnecessarily large knife. We then see one of the slowest and most ridiculous grab bag moves ever, as Wendy reaches out while the knife is touching her skin, grabs the bedside table light (with cardboard shade) and feebly brings it back to strike weakly against the Devil's head.
Amazingly, this knocks him for six, and she could end the film there by calmly picking up the knife and plunging it into him. Obviously she doesn't do this though, and wanders outside instead, where some African policeman turns up with the magic stick. The Dust Devil recovers, shoots the cop and turns on Wendy, who has managed to pick up a shotgun. The Devil advances on her, but the cop is not quite dead, and puts the magic stick in his path, which means he has to stop, giving Wendy more than enough time to pull the trigger and vapourise his head. I mean "more than enough time" quite literally, as if you watch it, she could have used the same dull reactions she did with the bedside lamp and still had time to blast him, magic stick or no magic stick.
In other words, all the shamanic nonesense we had to listen to about this Dust Devil was a total waste of time, as all anyone needed to do was shoot the bastard (or hit him with a lamp that had a slightly thicker cardboard shade).
Old Bluffer's Further Critiques
I need to reiterate how poor this film is, as for some inexplicable reason it has quite a good rating on IMDB. Make no mistake, anyone impressed with the so called subtle nuances of this film must be a first year film studies student. Granted, there are some nice cinematic shots in the film, but nothing that justifies watching the damn film for two hours.
If you look at what impresses the masses on IMDB the level of directorial brilliance becomes apparent. For example, there is a shot where the cowboy hatted villain stands on a veranda with some antelope horns mounted on the wall. In a stroke of genius the director frames this shot so that they appear to sprout from his head. Could it possibly be this is a foreshadowing that he is the Dust Devil? Well, yes I am afraid it is, with all the subtlety of a solid kick to the nuts. Besides, it is bloody obvious he is the dust devil within about three minutes into the film. This is however described as a"cool scene" on the IMDB message boards.
Aside from bits like this, there are endless references to Spirals throughout, and I've subsequently read that this is because the director intended the story to "spiral". If this pretentious motif sounds like a brilliant idea to you, I can promise you it isn't - but if you are doing a film studies course it will at least give you something to write a load of bollocks about!