The Devil Inside will certainly be among some Top 10 lists at the end of 2012. As in, one of Top 10 worst movies of the year.
It’s one of the first new releases of the new year — when movie studios typically drop their cheaply made garbage movies. The one good thing going for The Devil Inside — those crafty marketing and advertising folks that made this stinker look slightly scary. Bait and switch? You betcha.
It’s hard to sugarcoat this one. The Devil Inside is bad — laughably bad. It’s almost worth seeing just to laugh at how ridiculous it is, though I certainly wouldn’t recommend paying premium movie-theater prices for it.
Three-quarters of the movie is just plain dull, and when things seem like they may finally get interesting (or scary), the movie just ends. It’s like the filmmakers just ran out of money and ended the movie at the most climactic moment. Yep, the screen goes dark (with some silly message about visiting a Web site for more information on the case) and the slowest credits I’ve ever seen begin to roll.
Hoping to capitalize on the success of movies like The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity, The Devil Inside is shot in that irritating fake-documentary style (sometime called “mockumentary”). That style is completely wasted on me, since I never for one minute would believe that any of it is real. The mockumentary style usually means the dreaded, headache-inducing shaky cam, and this movie is no different. I’ll take those annoying 3-D glasses over shaky cam any day.
Michael (Ionut Grama) is the documentary-maker following Isabella Rossi (Fernanda Andrade) as she treks to Italy on a mission to discover if her mother Maria (Susan Crowley) is really possessed by the devil. Some 20 years ago, Maria allegedly murdered three people during an exorcism performed on her. Maria was found to be insane and shipped off to a psychiatric hospital in Italy. Isabella meets two Catholic priests, Ben (Simon Quarterman) and David (Evan Helmuth), who specialize in exorcism. They agree to take on Isabella’s case and meet with Maria in the asylum.
There are some graphic moments (including one particularly cringe-inducing suicide), but as a whole, the movie was not a bloody as I expected. There are a couple exorcisms, but none are particularly gruesome. The movie also is not scary at all. It’s kind of sad when a barking dog is the only jump-worthy moment in a horror flick.
Writer and director William Brent Bell and co-writer Matthew Peterman definitely should have spent more time on Maria, since she’s the most interesting character (Crowley gives a sufficiently creepy performance as well). The ads make it seem like the movie is about her, when really it’s more about the boring Isabella and the priests (those actors seemed to be going through the motions).
To sum things up, The Devil Inside is filled with actors you probably won’t recognize, is not scary and has one of the worst endings ever. This is one “found footage” flick that should have stayed lost. ••
Movie Grade: F