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the devil's bath

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[Tribeca ’24] ‘The Devil’s Bath’ review: True life horror stark reminder of unheard voices

It’s scary because it’s true.

The Devil’s Bath is a horror movie that explores themes of womanhood and mental health. Making its international premiere at Tribeca and set in eighteenth century Austria, the plot follows the recently married Agnes (Anja Plaschg). The happiness of her wedding day is soon replaced by her domineering mother and good-natured, if uncaring, husband. As the days grow longer, desperation sets in and Agnes sets forth on a dangerous path.

The setting and period will evoke themes of folk horror, but the terror here is very real. The fact The Devil’s Bath is based on historical accounts adds to the fear. This is more than just a story with an increasing sense of suspense. It is an actual tale of a woman coming undone. It is hard to not get frustrated as Agnes tries to cope with her new life.

The Devil’s Bath may be more accurately described as a psychological drama. While it is an eerie watch, there is nothing supernatural about what is happening to Agnes. The film works so well due to the grounded nature of its storytelling. This realistic approach makes it more immersive, which in turn makes it all the more terrifying.

The cinematography works in concert with the mental state of Agnes. Dreary, claustrophobic, and unsettled, the camera almost serves a reflection of the main character. It is darkly beautiful and also makes anyone watching feel uncomfortable. The Devil’s Bath is a great example of the production working with the script for maximum effect.  The audience is pulled into a world where societal norms dictate a woman’s life.

The message is crystal clear, but The Devil’s Bath is almost subtle in its storytelling. The pacing allows the chance to witness Agnes’s life unspool with each passing moment. It is a difficult viewing experience that also serves as a stark reminder of all the female voices that went unheard for centuries.

The Devil’s Bath opens at the IFC Center in New York June 21 and comes to Shudder June 28

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