The Devil Inside is a strange movie that meanders more than follows a directional story arc, which isnít a huge surprise given that itís the latest in a long series of found footage pseudo-documentaries. The impetus behind using shaky camerawork and spliced first person interviews is to create something unpredictable that feels very much in the moment. The Devil Inside accomplishes that goal, but in doing so, also leaves the audience unable to grasp larger meanings and unable to anticipate where the action might be headed.
Thereís a reason most horror movies establish a clear premise not long into their run times. Directional momentum allows for the building of suspense, which makes the shocking moments that much more terrifying. The Devil Inside zigs and zags so many times at such a frenetic pace that it leaves the audience only enough time to react. That makes for an exciting movie but also one that feels a bit pointless and contrived at the end. Viewers need breaks in the action to understand and then re-evaluate. Without those pauses, itís just a carnival ride. As carnival rides go though, Iíve been on far worse.
When Isabella Rossi (Fernanda Andrade) was a little girl, her mother (Suzan Crowley) murdered three people. The two priests and the nun were at her house to perform an exorcism. They wound up dead, and she wound up committed to a Catholic mental institution in Italy. Now, decades later, her daughter wants to understand why it happened and to do so, she must meet with the mother she hasnít seen in years. To help document the experience, she brings along a cameraman (Ionut Grama) and attends a class on exorcism. There she meets the two men who set the rambling plot in motion.
Theyíre Ben (Simon Quarterman) and David (Evan Helmuth), two Catholic priests who secretly perform exorcisms on patients they think the Church has misdiagnosed as suffering from mental illnesses. The pair agree to examine Isabellaís mother and almost immediately conclude sheís possessed by four demons. The quadrangle of entities are unlike anything the two good-natured men have ever faced before, and itís not long before they realize the Satanic lieutenants can jump from person-to-person, unleashing a fast-moving game of Guess Who thatís high on danger and low on coherence.
Admittedly, this hot potato possession is kind of fascinating to watch, but itís also extremely difficult to follow. By the end, Isabellaís mother is on the back burner and the audience is left trying to verify with their neighbors whether it was Mrs. Peacock or Colonel Mustard who used the knife in the operating room, if it even matters. Iíd like to say thereís a point, but after it all in concludes so far from the original destination, itís hard to assign value. Thatís the downside of these found footage pseudo-documentaries. Theyíre like highlight films featuring characters you vaguely know.
Maybe if the highlights were a bit more graphic, it would make up for the filmís shortcomings in the way of personalities, but because The Devil Inside is so beholden to the found footage game, viewers often miss the bloodiest parts. Weíre just vaguely aware something awful has happened somewhere just off camera. Only getting glimpses definitely makes it feel more authentic, but it also minimizes the gravity of the moment. Since there are so many moments in the film that are full of enough gravity to radically shift the plot, thatís a big problem.
Whether The Devil Inside ever overcomes that problem is more a matter of taste than fact. Itís not good. Itís not awful. Itís somewhere in the middle, which based on your own personal like of horror flicks, might be enough to buy a ticket. Iíll never see it again, but part of me doesnít hate the fact that I saw it once.
Reviewed By: Mack Rawden
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