Perhaps best known as a young man with an affinity for rats, Bruce Davison has a decades long career in television and film as both a reliable supporting actor and occasional leading man, and it’s always fascinating to see someone with such a distinguished career show up for a small-time horror film like Along Came the Devil 2. Davison’s professionalism is one of the film’s few highlights, along with special effects makeup by George Troester and visual effects by Steve Bone, Jason Butler, Jason Johnson and Connor Thomas. The rest of the movie is mired in the kind of derivative mediocrity that low-budget horror movies rarely transcend.

Written and directed by Jason DeVan, Along Came the Devil 2 is a possession story that begins where last year’s predecessor ended. Laura Wiggins plays Jordan, a college student who receives a mysterious phone call from her missing sister, Ashley, the victim of the prior film. Jordan heads to her hometown for answers, where she is met by Davison’s Reverend Michael and her estranged father, Mark (Mark Ashworth), an alcoholic and all-around asshole on the fatherhood front whom the Reverend has helped rehabilitate. Jordan reluctantly agrees to stay with her father and his new wife, Karen (Tiffany Fallon) and son, Xander (Cassius DeVan), at their remotely located fixer-upper. Karen is the sort of saint that repairs homes and men while Xander seems a little too old to be afraid of things that hide under his bed. But he has good reason: There’s a demon down there.

The film begins with Xander and a good scare to introduce the demon, a twitching, headless woman in white, but the fun ends for quite some time while DeVan sets up his mysteries. There’s a throwaway plotline about Reverend Michael and the moral compromises he has made in the service of God, a spin on the “Who is the real monster?” trope that’s thoroughly underdeveloped. DeVan primarily focuses on Jordan and the search for her sister. As Jordan explores the town and hears stories about mental breakdowns, such scenes merely kill time until the final act where the demon returns and the film becomes a haunted house/slasher mashup.

There’s some skill in the camerawork and the development of the mood around the house, but the film otherwise feels amateurish. What DeVan lacks as a director he lacks even more as a screenwriter, with dialogue that is often stunted and overwrought while plot threads linger and go unanswered. Seemingly, he wants to tell two stories, Jordan’s and Reverend Michael’s, and got the most out of the former before whatever deadline had to be met. In terms of the performances DeVan manages to garner, Davison radiates at a different frequency than his fellow players, making their collective lack of ability even more egregious. Something doesn’t fit here, and unfortunately, it’s the professional.

Given how often the name DeVan appears in the credits, there’s little surprise that a scroll of the production credits shows one called DeVan Clan Productions. That’s wonderful. Everyone should work with people they love and trust, but watching this film leaves little doubt that a bubble has formed in that small company that makes it immune to the kind of criticism that forges creative projects from muddles to things of worth. The DeVans have chosen to make their bread in low-budget horror, a genre forever long on potential but too often forgiven for its blandness. They likely came to horror because it always has an audience. That doesn’t mean the films they make have to suck. Alas, Along Came the Devil 2 comes in near the bottom of the annual October onslaught of cheap and supposedly scary product.

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