The Devil Inside

Genre: Horror
Released: 2012

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆ 

“The Devil Inside” is a terrible, uninspired, hack “found footage” flick whose trailer gives away every “scary” sequence in perfect narrative order.  I honestly feel like the film maker found some magical school or book that offered every tip on how to do a cool “found footage” film.  I find myself curious if he actually had a checklist.  Grainy cameras? Check.  Altered footage with scratches to make it look older and scarier? Check.  Mess up the audio to where it cuts in and out to make it sound old?  Check.  Make an unoriginal horror film when that money could have been put to better use? Check.  The film maker did nothing new here!  Why was this movie made?  Don’t filmmakers realize that the whole “found footage” element is overblown at the moment.  I mean, come on!    

We’ve had three “Paranormal Activity” films in the last three years.  Those films have grossed over $200 million at the box office which means the studios are going to try to bank off this “trend” for as long as they can.  It’s just like what “Avatar” did for 3D.  After that film came out, every single movie wanted to be in 3D even if it wasn’t shot in 3D.  What we have here is a film maker who thought it would cool to combine the world of “The Excorcist”, “The Rite” and “Paranormal Activity” and roll it all into one horribly unoriginal movie.  What we are left with is a film that lacks scares, originality, emotional connection to it’s characters and a film that thinks it’s too cool for school.  The filmmaker tried so hard to make a “real” film that it came off completely fake.    

First of all, when you make a “found footage” film, you have to have boundaries.  You’re cameras can’t capture every single element of the story perfectly as it does here.  The movie is an hour and nineteen minutes and the narrative moves along beautiful like a fictional film.  Obviously, we know this isn’t real but if you’re trying to be real, try not showing us everything.  It’s often what is not seen that is the scariest for audiences.  Director William Brent Bell feels the opposite.  He wants to show us as much blood, guts and bone-cracking as he can.  Audiences are desensitized to that type of content now.  That is why films like “Drag Me To Hell” or “Insideous” or the original “Paranormal Activity” had legit scares.  The audience had to fill in the blanks of the violence and horror, which made it that much more scary.  Sure, “The Exorcist” was extremely violent but that was the 70’s.  No one had ever seen anything like that before and to this day it is scarier than 99% of the horror films that are released each year.    

Second of all, you can’t release a red band (R-Rated, Unrated) trailer that perfectly flows with the narrative of the film and shows you every “scary” scene.  I might be off by one or two scenes but the red band trailer pretty much goes in linear order with the film but just cuts out all the fat.  So why do audiences need to go see this film?  All of the “best” scenes are in the red band trailer.  As I sat there watching the movie, I knew exactly what scare scene was coming up next because I watched the trailer.  I will say the best thing that came out of this film was the marketing campaign.  It was such a sick idea to release the red band trailer for this film on Christmas Day.   

Listen, I’m all for a good horror film.  I didn’t sleep for weeks after seeing “The Excorcist.”  That movie messed me up for years.  With this movie, I couldn’t wait to go home and get some sleep.  I was dreaming about my bed and how comfortable it was going to be when I got home.  When I watched “The Exorcist”, I tried to stay up as late as I could with my parents because I was frightened to go in my room.  The film clocks in at an hour and nineteen minutes yet feels like it’s three hours long.  I couldn’t believe my clock said 8:50pm when I walked out of the 7:30pm movie.    

I’ll keep the plot brief to keep from ruining it for anyone but I would honestly stay away.  Save yourself the twelve bucks and just watch the red band trailer.  The film opens and we learn that Maria Rossi (played by Susan Crowley) was the subject of an exorcism and that during this exorcism, she killed the three church people involved.  Now, twenty years later, her daughter, Isabella Rossi (Fernanda Andrade) wants answers.  She wants to know why her mom killed those three people and why she was transferred to a mental hospital in Rome, Italy.  Keeping with the wacky “found footage” bit, she decided she wants to make a documentary about her encounter for some weird reason.  She hires a documentary film maker who has magical cameras that appear everywhere they need to be during the “best scenes.”  They travel to Rome and meet up with two exorcists who operate “outside” the church.  David (played by Evan Helmuth) and Ben (played by Simon Quarterman) perform unauthorized exorcisms and Isabella hopes they can help her mother.    

The film slowly becomes “Paranormal Activity 4”, using very similar camera shots, sounds and scares.  This whole idea is played out and bored me throughout.  As the film reached the end, I just felt stupid that I had wasted my time.    I will admit that there are a couple of intense moments but they are ruined by the fact that they were already set up for me in the trailer.  I would skip this film and stay home to watch a real scary film like “The Excorcist” or “The Shining,” unless you want to pay twelve dollars for a comedy with blood/guts.  I give the film 1 out of 5.  It’s a shame that an unoriginal film like this gets an immediate wide release yet original independent films only open in a small number of theaters.

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