The Devil Inside Review

Movie: The Devil Inside
By: Maniac E
Date: January 8, 2012

The Rite idea, the wrong Exorcist

Exorcism films are one of the hardest films to make for two reasons. Reason one: Critics and audiences alike dethrone nearly any film that doesn't measure up to the impeccable heights of that of Friedkin's 1973 cinematic icon "The Exorcist". Reason two: Because they offer next to nothing to the table, making it 80+ minutes of virtually watching the same film- over and over again. (Sometimes even less than 80- Thank the Lord). So typically, I tend to try to be as lenient as possible when critiquing a film of such content because I know it is a tough accomplishment to actually make a serviceable horror flick.

The story:

In October 1989, Maria Rossi (Suzan Crowley) is arrested for the shocking murder of a nun and two priests but is later found not guilty by reason of insanity. She's shipped off to a mental hospital in Italy, and 20 years later, when her now-adult daughter Isabella (Fernanda Andrade) finds out that the crimes took place while her mother was undergoing an exorcism, she decides to uncover the truth by filming a documentary with her director friend Michael (Ionut Grama). Isabella flies to Italy (with Michael filming her every movement) and sits in on classes at an "exorcism school," where she meets ordained exorcists Ben (Simon Quarterman) and David (Evan Helmuth). The pair are secretly conducting exorcisms on individuals the church has turned down but whom Ben and David believe do indeed need to be exorcised. They agree to help Isabella with her mother, who's at a nearby hospital, but what they encounter is beyond any demonic possession they've dealt with -- one that might cost them not only their jobs, but also their lives.

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Just by hearing the synopsis, I'm pretty sure you don't need to spare 87 minutes to conjure up some logical answers based on the aforementioned questions. But let's talk about the performances first. The acting is surprisingly decent. Everyone here does there job... but that's pretty much it. You can certainly throw character development out the window as every actor is dull and about as lifeless as a cardboard cut-out. It's hard to sympathize with our main protagonists when they aren't even established as characters. Strike one. Strike two, the film takes an excruciatingly long time to get the ball rolling. For the first hour or so, you have to hear some tedious blabber about religion, which doesn't serve as controversial, but just insipid and soporific. I don't mind drawn-out sequences of dialogue, if it has something to say about our characters or the plot, but it's used to consume most of the already short running time. Here's my philosophy: If you don't have enough footage to tell your story and still keep your audience's interest, don't stretch out what originally could've been a solid 15 minute story into 70 more minutes.

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Now onto the question everyone wants to know: Is it scary? Absolutely not. "Devil" resorts to generic jump scares, heavy cut-aways, and the shaking of the camera. If you weren't scared by the trailer, you must certainly won't be by the film. Which reminds me, if you're going to shoot a film in mockumentary style, at least make it believable. Just because you shoot in found-footage doesn't mean you can side-skirt believability. I'm one who is prone to stretch my imagination, but not as far as Bell wants me to. What am I, an imbecile?

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And lastly, this film is just so predictable. If you're film isn't frightening, and certainly isn't interesting, try to spice it up a bit. If you've watched any film about an exorcism, you've seen this one already. I completely guessed the "twist" (if you can even call it one) even before I got to the theater. And that ending? One of the most retarded endings I've seen in a long time. How they got away with such a haphazard ending is just... MIND BOGGLING.

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For the first thirty minutes or so, The Devil Inside isn't such a bad outing. It raises a few interesting plot points, the direction is pretty good for the most part, and actually got me invested in what Bell was trying to sell the viewer here. After that, it's pretty much downhill and when you think things couldn't get any worse, the last five minutes prove that. Frustratingly, just when The Devil Inside begins to pick up the pace and starts to attain some semblance of becoming interesting, the movie ends. It's as if the filmmakers reached their micro-budget limit and just stopped. In the end, the entire project feels restrained creatively by its budget -- not that that is a viable excuse (see the similarly low-budget and much more original The Last Exorcism) -- as if the folks behind the scenes thought they could do so little with the budgetary constraints that they resorted to the most easy and predictable choices possible. Just skip this one it is just not worth your time or effort.



The Devil Inside


The Devil Inside


William Brent Bell






Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quarterman, Evan Helmuth