Oh January, what hath thou wrought upon us now? As if we needed not only another exorcism film, you pair it up with the found footage genre? While it used to be considered a subgenre, there are way too many films out there now for it to be a “sub” anything. The last one I bore witness too was the abysmal Evil Things, and while I’ve never been a huge fan of these films, they certainly can work. Give me The Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield any day. But alas, the annual dump month has now given us its latest opus operandi with The Devil Inside.
You’ll feel exactly the same way.
Poor William Brent Bell, when your only previous film happens to be about a killer video game (Stay Alive) you don’t give your audience too much hope. And no matter how many creepy stills you send out to plague film news sites you better have at least a passable movie to back them up. Filling it with TV actors and trying to convince viewers you filmed on location in the Vatican just makes things even harder to buy. Leave it to Paramount Pictures to launch their new micro-budget branch possibly thanks to the success of their Paranormal Activity franchise. But even still, I’d rather sit through any of those over this mess.
On October 30, 1989, police receive a phone call from Maria Rossi (Suzan Crowley) who informs the local dispatch she has just killed three people. Police investigate what appears to be either an exorcism gone awry or the world’s deadliest hazing. The murders are of course all over the news and her motive is left hanging in the wind. Cut to November 26, 2009 and we meet Isabella Rossi (Fernanda Andrade), Maria’s daughter. She wants to know what happened to her mother that night, why she was whisked away to a Rome insane asylum, and can’t help but worry that it could happen to her as well.
Isabella travels to the Vatican with her trusty sidekick documentarian Michael (Ionut Grama) to unravel the secrets of her mother’s sordid past. After attending a single class at the local exorcism school Isabella quickly befriends Fathers David (Evan Helmuth) and Ben (Simon Quarterman). The two let Isabella onto their little secret that they’ve been investigating supposed possessions on their own and performing exorcism to gather evidence to convince the church that these people need some serious help of the religious kind. Ben tells Isabella that she can learn more in five minutes during a real exorcism than she can after months of class. So sure enough, the quartet embarks on a mission to try to help Maria after Isabella witnesses the release of a woman named Rosa (contortionist for hire Bonnie Morgan).
It’s one thing for a mass of critics to walk out groaning about a feature as flaccid as this, but it’s another thing altogether when the credits role and your audience boos the screen. Yes, even a sold out audience couldn’t even tolerate this dreck. The New Year is definitely upon us and with that it means sifting through the Hollywood disasters of January and February. Thankfully they shouldn’t all be as awful as this and there’s also the annual Sundance Film Festival to look forward to. In the mean time, you may want to steer clear of this one as the only scare it manages to dredge up is of the cheapest kind: a barking dog, that probably knew what kind of movie he was in and just wanted to make sure something tried to scare The Devil Inside all of us.
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