The Netflix Dark True Story Thriller Series Investigates The Devil

By Charlene Badasie | Published

The 2022 suspense thriller Devil in Ohio is available to stream on Netflix. The limited eight-episode series is based on the 2017 Daria Polatin novel of the same name, which was inspired by an actual crime case in Ohio. Polatin, who also serves as showrunner, has stated that she fictionalized the parts of the story to free herself up creatively.

Devil In Ohio

Devil in Ohio begins in the small town of Amon County when Doctor Suzanne Mathis (Emily Deschanel), an in-patient psychiatrist at the local hospital, finds her life intertwining with a mysterious young girl brought in with a severe stab wound.

The girl, Mae Dodd (Madeleine Arthur), is tight-lipped about her past, leaving the medical staff with little information.

Devil in Ohio also sees the Mathis family facing challenges at home. Jules (Xaria Dotson), the middle daughter, struggles with social issues at high school, clashing with her older sister Helen (Alisha Newton).

Suzanne’s husband, Peter (Sam Jaeger), is struggling financially due to a construction project gone awry. Little Dani Mathis (Naomi Tan) fights to get her mom’s attention.

Trouble Background

In Devil in Ohio, Suzanne learns more about Mae’s troubled background, including the involvement of a local sheriff and a satanic cult, she decides to bring Mae into her home as an emergency foster placement.

However, her family is divided in their response to this new addition, with younger daughter Dani excited and the older siblings skeptical.

Devil in Ohio takes a dark turn when Mae, a seemingly quiet and troubled teenager, reveals her true nature. As a result, the family becomes entangled in a web of dangerous ancient rituals.

However, Suzanne is still determined to protect Mae and must confront the shadows of her past while navigating the ominous forces at play in Amon County.

Devil In Ohio Reception

devil in ohio

The series did not do as well as expected upon its release, with critics citing its lackluster execution of a potentially compelling premise as the reason.

Viewers didn’t care for the series either, which is likely due to its subject matter. Devil in Ohio only managed a 50 percent critics score on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes alongside a dismal 28 percent audience rating.

Inspired By Real Events?

devil in ohio

While Polatin hasn’t revealed specific details of the case, Devil in Ohio was likely inspired by Jeffrey Lundgren’s cult. Operating in Ohio during the 1980s, Lundgren initially presided over the Reorganized Church of Latter-Day Saints (RLDS).

Following his expulsion in 1988, he established a smaller “church” by recruiting members from the RLDS and housing his most devoted followers at his family residence.

Making Choices

devil in ohio

One of the members, Dennis Avery, and his family resisted this move. So Lundgren, perceiving it as a transgression, accused them of sin. Dennis’ refusal to contribute his finances to Lundgren displeased the leader, intensifying his frustration.

He began telling his followers that to secure their passage to heaven, they must carry out a ritualistic sacrifice involving a family of five. They ultimately selected the Averys.

Stream Devil In Ohio On Netflix

devil in ohio

The cult executed each member of the Avery family. And in 1990, Lundgren and 12 cult members were indicted for the orchestrated killings. Lundgren received a conviction in August 1990 on five counts of aggravated murder. He was executed in October 2006.

Although Devil in Ohio doesn’t strictly follow this formula, there are enough similar elements to link the book/series and the horrific real-life case.