No soul is safe…….especially the ones in the audience.
THE DEVIL INSIDE
Directed by: William Brent Bell
Stars: Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quarterman, and Evan Helmuth
MPAA Rating: R
The devil has always been a suitable villain for horror movies. It is the ultimate evil after all. What greater fight can there be for the forces of good or just the generally righteous? The latest battle takes place in the new faux documentary, THE DEVIL INSIDE. Does the film overcome the minions of Hell and deliver a new exorcism film worth praising?
THE DEVIL INSIDE focuses on Isabella, a young woman travelling to Rome in an effort to better understand the circumstances surrounding the exorcism of her mother twenty years previously. It was an event that left three people dead and her mother committed to a mental institution in Vatican City ever since. To assist her in the lore and knowledge of exorcisms, Isabella enlists the expertise of two priests who happen to also be rogue exorcists acting outside of the church’s authority. When the church refuses to review her mother’s case, the two men take it upon themselves to assist Isabella and rid the old woman of the demons that possess her. But at what risk, and at what cost?
The movie starts off well. It mimics the documentary form and style appropriately with convincing camera set-ups and performances. The premise is strong enough to hold our attention, and the characters are likeable enough to warrant some investment. There’s an early exorcism scene that is pretty effective. It conveys the horrors of the situation and the possible dangers to the participants involved.
The final thirty minutes, though, are a different matter. It involves several plot twists, one coming almost directly after another. Most of them are predictable. All of them are ridiculous. Then, just as things are ramping up and heading for a climax, the movie ends abruptly and in a wholly unsatisfying manner. After the film cuts to black, it prompts us to visit a website to get more info. It’s difficult not to feel cheated and a little burned by this. It’s not just how the events are preposterous and the ending disappointing, but just how lazy and negligent it all feels. Why invest the time in a movie if the filmmakers can’t be bothered to sufficiently and competently see the story through to the end? It’s a disservice to the audience, and the word-of-mouth will most probably work against it.
Which is a shame because the other participants mostly pull their weight. The acting is pretty solid throughout. Sure, there are clumsy moments and occasional laspses in quality, but overall it’s better than most we find in this genre. The special effects are generally well-done. There are several disturbing and discomforting moments in the film, and they can mostly be attributed to the effects teams. As indicated previously, the film is shot and edited well. There are nice shots of Rome, suitably creepy shots of the various exorcism sites, and the film is paced adequately. Overall, the production quality can’t be faulted.
Where does that leave us then? While THE DEVIL INSIDE is well-made and sets up an intriguing premise, it buckles and eventually breaks due to poor plotting in its latter half and the absolute lack of payoff in the end. Considering the efforts put in by the cast and crew, it’s a shame that the result is something this lackadaisical, laughable, and ultimately pointless.
THE DEVIL INSIDE is now playing in theaters nationwide. It cannot be recommended at all by this critic.
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