The 13th Child

Dir: Steven Stockage
Star: Michelle Maryk, Cliff Robertson, Robert Guillaume, Christopher Atkins

Proclaiming yourself as "Volume 1" is always a bit presumptuous, and I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for number two in this dully-plotted tale, which wastes a decent concept, explained in its subtitle: Legend of the Jersey Devil. The JD is an winged, demonic apparition said to haunt remote woodlands in New Jersey, with appearances recorded from before the American Revolution up until the present day - it also gave its name to the local professional ice-hockey team. Here, an FBI Special Agent (Maryk) is dispatched to investigate some gruesomely mutilated corpses, on behalf of a district attorney (Lesley-Anne Down) whose father vanished in the area decades previously while hunting the devil - his partner (Guillaume) is still locked up in a mental hospital to this day. Could all these events be linked to mysterious recluse, Mr. Shroud (Robertson)?

You'll likely work out the answer to that one, a good hour before the characters do, since it's not exactly difficult. There are a couple of visually impressive moments, such as the monster rising out of a pool of blood, and the creature itself isn't bad - nor are the actors, who do the best they can. It's the script which sucks. It has the worst pacing imaginable, leaves out chunks of helpful information, is told in almost incomprehensible (and entirely pointless) flashbacks, and rapidly drifts from any factual connections to the "real" Devil - the name 'Shroud' is about the only genuine link. This is a real shame: the slightest research reveals that this is a spooky enough piece of folklore not to need being unjustifiably linked to a pissed-off Indian shaman. It certainly deserves better than this dull affair.


Not Separated at Birth
The New Jersey Devil

Cliff Robertson
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