Devil in Ohio review: Alarming thriller about the influences of a cult

Devil in Ohio focuses on a young girl who escapes a cult and takes shelter with a local psychiatrist. However, her introduction brings about all kinds of suspense and trouble. The thriller limited series is now streaming on Netflix.

Story

Mae Dodd escapes a ranch in Amontown in the dead of night and is taken to a hospital. Dr Suzanne Mathis is the local psychiatrist called in to help find out where Mae came from and what she’s gone through. The young girl has a pentagram carved into her back which raises questions.

Suzanne also has her own family life to deal with, he husband is trying to build a business of his own which isn’t exactly taking off while her three daughters have various things going on that any growing child has to go through.

Suzanne decides to bring Mae into her home, much to the dismay of her family. Mae’s entry causes disruptions in the Mathis family household and even makes them a target.

Alex Lopez is a detective who has transferred to the town recently and he’s tasked with finding out where Mae comes from and what she was involved in. Through his investigation, he finds out that Amontown is the home of a satanic cult with boundless resources.

Now Suzanne and Alex work to help Mae free herself from the cult but the journey is dangerous and not without its consequences.

Performances

Madeleine Arthur is the star of Devil in Ohio as the brainwashed cult victim who knows way more than she lets on. Arthur’s performance is chilling and always leaves the audience wondering what her true motives are.

Emily Deschanel plays Suzanne, the dedicated medical professional who is determined to deal with her own trauma by projecting onto Mae who comes from a somewhat similar situation. Deschanel is at the centre of everything and she does well in the spotlight.

Xaria Dotson as Suzanne’s middle daughter, Jules, gets the most exposure and she does a great job as the troubled teen who has a tough time fitting and goes through a whirlwind of emotions after being introduced to Mae.

The supporting cast is just about satisfactory in their roles. Gerardo Celasco as Alex Lopez plays the typical big city cop in a small town who is steadfast in his investigation while the rest of Suzanne’s family also play their parts well.

Positives

Cults are a very real phenomenon, especially in America and Devil in Ohio showcases how they can operate in secrecy for decades without drawing any attention. The fact that their beliefs appear backwards yet they’re advanced enough to know how to protect themselves is terrifying.

The narrative moves at a good pace which makes it quite easy to follow. There are rare moments where the story drags a bit but they are inconsequential to the overall story arc.

The blend of folk, indie and alt music in the soundtrack of the series adds to the entire thrilling experience. The sound design deserves credit for making the right choices when it comes to setting a tone.

The ending is outstanding. The way the audience has the rug pulled out from under them is a masterful story-telling and truly leaves you in awe. Only a small percentage of viewers could possibly see that coming and even they must appreciate how fantastic it is.

Negatives

Suzanne decides to use the most extreme option of trying to save a girl from a cult as a means to deal with her trauma despite being a psychiatrist herself and even being accurately diagnosed during a session. This doesn’t feel like a smart situation given how much of the series is based in reality.

There are multiple moments in the series where simply communicating with each other would solve multiple issues. Yet that would mean not having a story to tell.

The subplot of Helen trying to figure out her identity felt out of place as it doesn’t tie into the main story in any meaningful way.

Verdict

Devil in Ohio is a magnificent thriller with an ending that exceeds all expectations. The fact that cults are something that actually exists is what makes this story so terrifying and the way they depict the conditioning of a person and how difficult it is for them to break away is truly captivating.

As long as you’re not a stickler for common sense in every situation, Devil in Ohio is a limited series that deserves a watch because of its brilliant performances and gripping narrative.

Rating: 3.5/5


Also Read: Devil in Ohio ending explained: Does Suzanne save Mae from the cult?