The Devil Inside Directed by: William Brent Bell Cast: Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quarterman, Evan Helmuth, Suzan Crowley Running Time: 1 hr 27 mins Rating: R Release Date: January 6, 2012
PLOT: The daughter (Andrade) of a woman (Crowley) who was possessed in 1989 goes to Rome to better understand exorcisms. She befriends two exorcists (Quarterman and Helmuth) who go against church guidelines.
WHO'S IT FOR? If you want a multiplex experience that will legitimately thrill you, go see Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. If you're looking for something to satisfy a lust for the disturbing and gruesome, go see Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. You won't get anything from your ticket to The Devil Inside, aside from more re-assurance that found footage movies are cheap ways for films to suck.
Don't even bother with the actual images within The Devil Inside when deducing how terrible the first new movie of 2012 is. If one closed their eyes and covered their ears during the whole movie and opened their senses to experience the film's closing credits, they would comprehend the awfulness just as much as anyone who tried to survive the entire movie itself.
After all, making closing credits is probably the most automatic component of making a movie, especially as the format has become nearly automatic, as celebrated by thousands and thousands of films united by their black and white rolling credits. It's essentially fool-proof, that is at least until the foolish films like The Devil's Inside prove otherwise.
Bungling this easy task like a worthless straight-to-DVD movie that I'd have nightmares about, The Devil Inside finds a way to make even the closing credits reek of amateur hour. The credits crawl at a speed that would embarrass a snail, and the names are all in the incredibly bland font of Times New Roman, written in all lower-case. There isn't even any music to play out audiences as they shake their heads and move their feet quickly out of the theater. Especially following a movie as forced and phony as The Devil Inside, closing credits have never felt more like hell.
Yes, let's talk about the actual movie.
The Devil Inside gives great argument as to why the "fake documentary" style doesn't benefit a story, so much as make it easier for filmmakers to throw together a collection of scenes and pass them lazily off as part of a "true story." The story structure is flimsy, and its inhabitants are basically lifeless. Though the interview style suggests they are "real" and that we are "intimate" with them, no character seems worth our attention or focus. Quickly into the movie, The Devil Inside is an awkward "Little Engine That Couldn't," a sloppy low-budget attempt that can't improve upon its phony sense of reality.
Though inspired by seemingly earnest efforts like Paranormal Activity, The Devil Inside feels like a poser indie actually concocted by "The Man," who only sees low-budget horror as the way to save a lot of bucks while appearing "gritty." The ending of the movie, (no, not the credits), suggests extreme indifference to the entire movie's existence.
Essentially, The Devil Inside stands as a collection of dull exorcism scenes, usually featuring ugly contortions accompanied by mumbled devil speak. Instead of using smoke and mirrors, those that brought The Devil Inside unto this world use dizzying shaky cameras and sudden bursts of darkness to create cheap fear. A very little amount of storytelling glue is used to link such moments, but the entire thing is meant to look like it could pass as a bonafide documentary (You know, if you're an idiot.)
The Devil Inside has only one element of redemption, and that comes from Suzan Crowley's performance as Maria Rossi, the catalyst for all the wacky events of this movie. In one scene, for a few surges of tension, she's legitimately spooky, offering the type of performance you wouldn't want to watch alone with the lights off (granted, it's a scene that spans about a bathroom break). Crowley is the surprisingly talented veteran who somehow found herself with a supporting role in a college production lead otherwise by amateurs with very little sense of craft of their own. An embarrassing production, certainly.
FINAL SCORE: 3/10