The Devil Inside FILM REVIEW
Everyone loved her Kate Bush impression.
Release Date: 16 March 2012
15 | 83 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Director: William Brent Bell
Cast: Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quarterman, Evan Helmuth, Suzan Crowley, Ionut Grama
Like the grainy, old footage that sometimes pops up during the course of the film, The Devil Inside often feels like a poor-quality copy of much better material. It’s just the latest in the current fad for “found-footage” horror thrillers that can trace its roots back to The Blair Witch Project and, more recently, the success of Paranormal Activity.
All the hallmarks are here: jumpy, first-person, purportedly “real” footage that nevertheless miraculously covers everything the audience needs to see. In this case, the focus is on Maria Rossi (Suzan Crowley), a woman who in 1989 was locked away in an asylum after slaughtering two priests and a nun who were trying to exorcise her seemingly very real demons. Cut to 2009, and her grown daughter Isabella (Fernanda Andrade) travels to Rome to visit mum and see how she’s doing. Of course, she has a documentarian (Ionut Grama) along for the ride and soon falls in with two young priests, Ben (Simon Quarterman) and David (Evan Helmuth).
The religious duo, sick of the Catholic church’s refusal to really help demonically-infested victims, have set up their own blend of medical and prayer-based exorcism on the sly and we’re dragged along to one of their noisy, dangerous operations. Naturally, Isabella thinks they might be able to help Maria, and you can pretty much guess what happens from there. Yup, it all goes horribly, horribly wrong as, confronted by a truly powerful demonic force, Ben and David become so rattled that they’re less Father Merrin and more Father Ted.
Director William Brent Bell squeezes a few effective shocks out of the exorcism sequences, but it’s really just a low-budget take on what we’ve seen many times on screen: twisted limbs, howling in tongues, sex-fuelled swearing, a bit of levitation and lots of gnashing. And just as things start to become interesting – when the concept of demonic influence leaping from one person to another really kicks into top gear, the film ends so laughably abruptly that you’re left feeling cheated at the way it finishes. Worse still, the sudden cut to black has a website link, clearly inviting you to find out more about what just happened. It’s seemingly a clever way to try to convince us that it all really happened, but the narrative cheat is slightly undercut when Bell’s name pops up next. It’s also a development that has led to complaints and near-rioting in America. What a wonderful way to keep the audience on your side, team!
It might be time for the found-footage fad to take another break. While the Devil might have a claim to hold all the best tunes, on the evidence of this, he really needs a word with his film development department.
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