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Grab Bag Review: 'The Devil Inside' – There's Not Much Inside This Movie, Much Less the Devil…

As you read this, The Devil Inside is probably still making money, adding to the nearly $35 million that it has grossed on this, its opening weekend.  While there are many injustices in the world, I would say that a badly made movie, with an entirely unoriginal plot and less than mediocre acting that ends up making thirty-five times its budget back is slightly less offensive than Japanese fisherman slaughtering dolphins for sushi.  OK. OK.  Maybe I’m being a bit hyperbolic but a $35 million box office weekend?  Really?  I guess no one stayed home this weekend to watch the Republican debates or the NFL playoffs.  Unfortunately.

What can I say about this movie that hasn’t already been said, seen or written?  Every horror “found footage” (I refer to them as “mockumentaries” because I refuse to believe that most of these films should be taken seriously) movie that has been made since The Blair Witch Project made the genre popular in 1999 is just more of the same.  Apparently, the genre is a clear money maker though and, for some inexplicable reason, the movie audience at large hasn’t yet figured out that they have been paying to see the same movie (albeit with different sets and characters) over and over and over since Blair Witch.  Because if you really think about it, the Paranormal Activity series, The Last Exorcism, Quarantine, Apollo 18 and Cloverfield all have the same premise: seemingly normal people stumble into supernatural and generally horrifying situations, valiantly (and stupidly) dealing with demons, monsters, deadly diseases and other life-threatening nonsense for approximately ninety minutes until all of the previous action comes to a (supposedly) climactic, “frightening” and insanity inducing end during the last ten minutes of the movie. (And I only mentioned a fraction of the “found footage” movies that have been made thus far, however, you can take it from me when I say that I’ve spent enough time watching these movies to know how exactly they intend to separate you from your hard-earned money

Guess what?  The Devil Inside is no different.  Except, of course, for the sets and characters.  Let’s play, “What Happens Next?” (for those “Tosh.0” fans out there) with the synopsis, OK?.)

Isabella Rossi’s mom, Maria, murders three people in 1989 during an exorcism.  It is now 2007 and Isabella is looking for answers.  She knows that Maria was found not guilty by reason of insanity and subsequently sent to a psychiatric ward in Rome.

What happens next?

You’d be right if you guessed: Isabella has a burning desire to know whether her mom is possessed or just insane, so she heads off to Rome, with her trusty documentarian, to investigate.

So far, so good, right?  Well, I guess, if you think that’s something a normal person would do.  Personally, if I found out that my mom killed three people during an exorcism, I’d probably let it lie.  Nevertheless…

Isabella visits the renowned (?) exorcism school that is housed within the Vatican and joins forces with two priests who, between baptisms and marriages, are secretly investigating all of the local exorcism cases that have been rejected by the Vatican.

What happens next?

You’d be right if you guessed: Isabella and the priests decide to sneak into Maria’s room at the psycho ward in order to make the “insane or possessed?” determination for themselves.

And what happens after that?

You’d be right again if you guessed: Maria’s definitely possessed and, oh dear, it’s communicable.

I won’t ruin the “terrifyingly excremental” ending (or whatever tag line the marketing people have come up with) for you but be prepared for utter disappointment.  Truth be told, I wasn’t scared once during the entire film.

The movie, which intends to provide a “found footage” first hand account of the mysteries of possession (why, oh why, do movie characters INSIST on looking for answers for things that we, the normal people, are content to define as “inexplicable”?) doesn’t tread any ground that we haven’t seen before in The Exorcist.  In fact, those people who believe The Exorcist to be the scariest movie of all time will definitely appreciate the blatant rip-off (or was it intended to be a “homage”?) of the classic “spider walk” scene.

Surprisingly, the main actors, Fernanda Andrade (Isabella), Simon Quarterman (Ben) and Evan Helmuth (David), all have previous screen credits, so they can, technically, be considered actors.  Yet, Andrade’s Isabella lacks oh…the proper sense of terror and bewilderment that I expect would manifest when one finds out one’s mother is the victim of a multiple demonic possession.  Of the two priests, Quarterman’s Ben has more dialogue and much more to sink his teeth into, so he’s naturally the more interesting character.  When everyone flips out at the end (I’m not spoiling anything here because I’m sure you’ve already foreseen the ending), not only are you expecting it but you simply don’t care because you haven’t really invested in the characters.

The director, William Brent Bell, also directed the movie Stay Alive, which, after a quick Google search looks to be pretty stupid (a cross between the movie The Game, the game “The Sims” and Wes Craven’s “Scream”…are you confused yet?) but at least it’s not of the “found footage” genre.  But regardless of who directed this half-witted derivative, it isn’t good and it isn’t scary.

In the meantime, can someone please send Hollywood a memo to tell them that this genre is, officially, over?  PLEASE?

Bottom Line: I can’t think of one reason why you’d want to see this one.  And that’s me being kind. 

1 out of 5

About the author

Michelle Nava

People who know Michelle Nava claim that she is an engima, but that truly isn't the case. Michelle prefers the mountains to the beaches, peanut butter over chocolate and beer over any other alcohol in existence. Yes, she has been educated, however please don't hold that against her. Yes, it is also true that she loves reading books, NBC sitcoms that involve Tina Fey, Lucha Libre, most holidays, ninjas, house plants and a minority of her eccentric family members. Somehow in the midst of all the madness, she occasionally finds the time to sit down and watch a good movie yet more often than not, she finds the time to sit down and watch a bad movie; it is those instances that she particularly enjoys sharing with the fabulous readers of Grab Bag Cinema.