There are dumb movies, and then there are movies so dumb that they don’t even pass basic scrutiny. Devil’s Domain is a film in the latter category, a supposed treatise on cyberbullying that neither finds a moral center nor an actual arc to the story it is trying to convey. In other words, it’s a mess, and not a particularly interesting one to dissect, either.
Our protagonist is Lisa (Madi Vodane), a lesbian teenage girl with an eating disorder who is tortuously bullied for both. Her torment comes to a head when her next door neighbor plants hidden cameras in her room and films her bingeing, purging, and masturbating, then shares the video with the entire school. The universality of her classmates’ willingness to berate and ridicule Lisa is comically absurd, with seemingly every teenager throwing out epithets as benign as “loser.”
Meanwhile, a mysterious woman in a red dress wearing a goat-head mask goes about town killing Lisa’s bullies, yet remarkably nobody ever seems concerned about the missing or bloodily maimed victims. In fact, at one point a video of one of the murders goes viral and nobody bats an eye at the notion that someone they know has apparently died. It’s a bizarre bit of plot convenience that is simultaneously highlighted and ignored, but without any sort of acknowledging wink like one would find in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
It’s eventually revealed that the mysterious woman is none other than Satan herself (Linda Bella), who makes a contract with Lisa to make her bullies suffer for the humiliation they brought upon her. Why Lisa should need to enter into a contract when Satan had been killing kids free of charge for half the film, Devil’s Domain never really explores, but it does show a fatal misunderstanding on writer-director Jared Cohn’s part of how a fall-to-temptation arc is supposed to play. Until the final scene, Lisa is never actually party to the murders that Satan commits on her behalf, and she arguably isn’t even aware of the extremity of Satan’s methods. Instead, her role is to make a scandalizing video that similarly embarrasses one of her bullies, but the banality of the cyberbullying stands in stark contrast to the vicious violence perpetrated against her classmates.
As a consequence of this sloppy plotting, it can’t really be said that Lisa has grown or learned anything from her dealings with Satan other than not to make deals with Satan. Even her ironic reward of fame and fortune that Satan conjures out of nothing has little impact on Lisa, who at most seems annoyed by the constant attention. There’s no arc to Devil’s Domain, no lesson or moral to a story that barely has any structure at all. It’s an ersatz screenplay, a script that goes through the motions of a morality play but has no grasp on the morals it wants to impart. Yes, cyberbullying and bullying in general are terrible social ills that cause harm to thousands of teenagers, but if Devil’s Domain had anything intelligible to say about it, it’s lost under layers of hilariously bad devil make-up.