The Devil’s Left Hand is a moody demonic thriller chronicling the aftermath of a séance gone awry at a couple’s housewarming party.
Harley Wallen writes, directs, and plays a key character in the independent film from Painted Creek Productions and Auburn Moon Productions. Wallen previously directed Ash and Bone (2022) and uses at least five of the same actors from that film. Be sure to check out our review of Ash and Bone.
The Devil’s Left Hand – Overcoming a Pandemic
The Devil’s Right Hand is basically a re-edited version of the movie Agramon’s Gate. Wallen explains that Agramon’s Gate was originally released in February 2020 just when COVID started dominating the news.
“Our film drowned in the algorithms and never recovered,” Wallen tells MalevolentDark.com in an exclusive interview. “Fortunately, I was able to get my film back, and I already had a desire to lighten the load of the running time being dangerously close to two hours. I wanted to give it a facelift with a new title and poster to go with the leaner cut, and I’m happy it paid off trending for months on Tubi’s Most Popular as well as Amazon Prime, Red Box, and Vudu.”
The ensemble cast in The Devil’s Left Hand features veteran actors Laurene Landon, who portrayed Theresa Mallory in Maniac Cop (1988); and Yan Birch who played roles in The People Under the Stairs (1991) and Slumber Party Massacre III (1990).
In The Devil’s Left Hand, Landon plays a disturbed mental patient … almost too realistically at times.
“I have to admit she was fantastic and honestly really blew me away with her willingness to take on a challenging character that wasn’t there to be pretty but to be a deep wound and even a red herring as you could almost wonder about her in her current state in the film,” Wallen says. “She made icicles in my veins a couple of times!”
Pro Tip: Never Have a Séance at the Housewarming Party
The movie opens with a creepy pre-credit séance scene during a housewarming party for young couple Richie (Kris Reilly) and Cassidy Stann (Kaiti Wallen). A medium named Vesna conducts the séance, but an unexpected entity breaches her safeguards, endangering all the people in attendance.
Aphrodite Nikolovski plays Vesna, and she delivers the most nuanced performance in the film. With expressive eyes tailor-made for horror movies, Nikolovski portrays a gritty medium who fears the unknown entity but is brave enough to help the partygoers fight the invisible force when it begins stalking them.
Vesna enlists her demon-fighting friend Zeb (played by Wallen) to investigate the entity’s identity and assist her in the battle.
“Something pushed through,” Vesna tells Zeb. “Whatever it was, it was stronger than anything I’ve ever felt before. It took me over. It went through me … went through all of us. It’s like we set it free or something.”
Wallen as Zeb is an imposing figure on screen, looking every bit the demon fighter with his scarred face, milky left eye, gravelly voiced accent, and shaven pate. I asked Wallen if he would give MalevolentDark.com readers some extra background in what caused Zeb’s scars.
“Thank you for asking since Aphrodite and I built a back story that would make for a great prequel,” Wallen says. “Zeb and Vesna go way back, and when they were younger Zeb’s girlfriend got possessed by a demon. Instead of waiting for their mentor Killian to drive the demon out, Zeb attempts and almost loses his life. It’s always been what unites Zeb and Vesna, but it’s also why they’re only friends and now spend their existence dealing with the occult.”
Richie’s Childhood Trauma
Most of The Devil’s Left Hand follows Richie, whose traumatic childhood resurfaces after the opening séance. At age 12, Richie shot and killed his father when he witnessed him strangling his mother. The tragedy sent his mother to a mental institution for the rest of her life.
After the séance, Richie and the others in attendance start hearing noises and seeing evidence of poltergeist activity as tension slowly builds throughout the 98-minute film. Richie’s wife mentions the spirit could be his father. The suggestion prompts Richie to visit his mother in the institution for help, but she is still insane and unable to communicate with her son coherently. But the visit is unsettling thanks to the dedicated and disturbed performance by Landon.
When Richie thinks he sees his father walking in town, he follows but loses him. Convinced his father is the spirit, Richie meets with Vesna and Zeb. However, Zeb doesn’t believe the entity is Richie’s father but rather a powerful demon named Agramon, one that feeds off fear with the ability to manifest into human form. The revealing scene features the best lines of dialogue in the movie.
“Some people say Baal is the devil’s right hand,” Zeb says. “I will argue that Agramon is his left hand, and that the Devil is left-handed.”
The group agrees to stay together and fight the demon. However, the demon is a deceptive entity, launching its own attack on anyone who was part of the original séance. Agramon uses Richie’s mother and even takes the form of Richie’s father to tear down his defenses.
With the demon’s attacks increasing, Zeb enlists the aid of his mentor Killian who loans him a wicked-looking blade called the Demon Killer, supposedly blessed by two Disciples.
The last half-hour of the movie breaks from the slow-burn pace of the first 60 minutes when the demon finally starts killing. The appearance of Agramon is unexpected and disturbing. Looking like a possessed geisha, Calhoun Koenig is strikingly animalistic as the demon and is one of the highlights of the film despite her brief time on screen.
The climax of The Devil’s Left Hand will likely divide viewers, especially the ones who like their endings tied up in a nice, neat bow. All in all, I think the movie earns high marks for its direction and consistency of its tone. I think the film effectively shows how a traumatic childhood episode can manifest itself later in life even when dealing with unrelated challenges. It certainly adds an interesting layer to Richie’s character, which is why Wallen used the tragic back story.
“I like using deep reasoning to motivate characters and think we relate to them when we see what happened and that means we now watch the film differently,” Wallen says. “We’re on Team Richie now and pull for them and hurt with them. Beyond the horror, it engages me more when I watch a movie when that’s the case, so I tend to look for opportunities to get to know my main characters through – not just watch and hear them – but feel them. Trauma does that, love does that, hate does that, happiness, etc. We go on a deeper emotional journey with them.”
Harley Wallen – Art is Life
Wallen is on his own journey to make movies, calling it his life’s purpose. In 2016, he and his wife Kaiti formed the film company Painted Creek Productions. Kaiti portrays Richie’s wife in The Devil’s Left Hand.
“First off, I love that my wife Kaiti and I have such similar ultimate goals – not just with business and art but in life – and such different skill sets that we really contribute to each other,” Wallen says. “It makes it possible for incredible synergy! I think when someone is inspired and pursues their dreams, it gets contagious and motivates others to not let dreams die. I guess that’s purpose to me … because I see too many easily discouraged and distracted, and they fade as humans when they let go and that honestly breaks my heart.”