WRETCHED REVIEWS: THE DEVIL INSIDE
THE DEVIL INSIDE
Starring Fernanda Andrade, Suzan Crowley and Simon Quarterman
Directed by William Brent Bell
Written by William Brent Bell & Matthew Peterman
It’s not that The Devil Inside could not have been an entertaining film. The idea of a young woman (Andrade) traveling to Rome to find out the truth about why her mother was committed to a mental hospital in Rome after killing three people twenty years earlier in what appears to be an exorcism gone wrong holds promise. But coming as it does thirteen years after The Blair Witch Project, two years after Paranormal Activity, and one year after The Rite, the idea of a found footage exorcism movie seems about as fresh as the pea green puke Reagan projectile vomited onto Father Karras in The Exorcist back in 1973.
Blame much of the film’s failure on its form. Yes, cameras are ubiquitous nowadays, but being a slave to the found footage conceit means that there is no opportunity to explore interesting back stories, flesh out characters, or build suspense. Instead, director William Brent Bell rushes the story along to a conclusion which is not only wholly unsatisfying but feels like a failure of imagination. At some 85 minutes, The Devil Inside seems like it was made for an ADD-afflicted generation. Heaven (or hell) forbid that an audience be made to sit still for two hours as a filmmaker sets up a story, develops his characters, and creates tension through sharp editing, atmosphere, music and strong scripting. Can an audience demand its money back for a film being too short? We’ll see this weekend.
The Devil Inside has its fair share of creepy imagery, including a supposedly possessed woman twisting her limbs into unnatural positions, and the ever-moving, low-res cameras only glimpsing certain horrific events, leaving our brains to fill in the awful gaps. But there is nothing here we have not seen in a dozen recent films. Indeed, The Devil Inside seems like the reductive answer to a moviemaking formula concocted in a Hollywood boardroom; in this case, Paranormal Activity + The Last Exorcism x The Rite = The Devil Inside. That equation may equal big box office this weekend, but look for this devilish bomb to produce diminishing returns.