Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Devil Inside - a Review of a Film that is Not Worth Your Time!

I I has been a while since I've been inspired enough about a movie lately to write a review. In this case warn folks about a bad movie. I have been busy with work lately so going to the movies as often as I did for a while is no longer feasible. So I start the new year with a caveat and a warning .First off, I am not a fan of the "found footage" genre of films presented to us since The Blair Witch Project first came out in 1999. I never got past the really bad camera work, the campy acting, and the crappy dialog. That being said, I am here to report that I am sadly disappointed with William Brent Bell's latest offering The Devil Inside. Bell, if you recall brought us Stay Alive back in 2006, as both writer and director. You remember Stay Alive, don't you? The movie about dying in video games you die in real life. Well I almost forgot I saw it myself. The Devil Inside stars practically unknown actors Fernanda Andrade as Isabella Rossi the daughter of the main possessed person of this film, Maria. Suzan Crowley plays Maria, and unknowns Simon Quarterman, and Evan Helmuth play the rouge priests Ben and David. Not sure if I should even mention Ionut Grama as the cinematographer behind the found footage and is rarely seen and really doesn't have an impact on this film except for the end (pun intended).

Since the granddaddy of all exorcism films (The Exorcist) came out back in 1973, (I was only 10 and not allowed to see it. Thank God) and when I actually got to see it when I turned 18, I was immediately hooked on the exorcism/possessed genre. However, very few movies actually live up to the original. Even last year's The Rite was sadly disappointing and not very scary. Before that in 2010, we had two films that year, M. Night Shyamalan's The Devil. Which did creep me out, and The Last Exorcism which I have come to think after time is one of better of the "found footage" subgenre films. The Devil Inside which, in my mind reminds me of INXS's song of the same name is somewhat laughable. The story revolves around Maria Rossi (Crowley), her daughter Isabella (Andrade), a young woman in her mid-twenties whose mother murdered three members of the Roman Catholic clergy 20 years before while they tried to perform an exorcism on her the night before All Hallows Eve. By 1991, she was tried and found not guilty due to reasons of insanity. Somehow she is transferred to the Centrino Mental Hospital (doesn't exist) in Rome, Italy. So, 20 years later her daughter Isabella wants to reopen the case after finding out from her father that her mother was the subject of an exorcism at the time of the murders. So Maria, along with director/cameraman Michael Schaefer (Ionut Grama) which the website for this film explains that his bipolar mother was the reason why he was interested in Isabella's mother's case, decide to run around Rome with cameras attached to the car, Michael and Isabella first go to an Exorcism class held by Roman Catholic Church. Our quick lesson consists of explaining multiple demonic possessions, along with a film about a girl who acts possessed but the church is convinced she is only mental. Isabella is intent on seeing her mother and is received by the doctor in charge. He shows Isabella some footage from seven years prior when Maria had her last violent outbreak. The funny part was watching the doctor get his head slammed into the desk. Isabella's encounter doesn't go well, but what do expect form a mom who is either mentally disturbed or possessed, it doesn't matter it is not going to go well. Maria is crazy as a loon and Crowley does a wonderful job as both a psycho and demonically possessed person. She shows off her emo side by showing off all the cuttings on her arms. She also tells Isabella about an abortion she had a few years back. This is supposed to be the piece of information that only the devil would know. After a boring chat with her daughter, Maria invites Isabella to leave and when she doesn't, Maria goes demonic on her. Deciding to call upon her new-found-friends from the exorcism school, she meets up with Fathers Ben and David at their apartment in Rome. Isabella and Michael show off her video of her mom. Ben and David are two priests who believe in possession and Ben is an ordained Exorcist.

Ben and David give Isabella and Michael the obligatory exorcism lesson by taking them to a girl they are currently treating; the girl from the film at school. There are several mandates for any possession film and one is that you have a good contortionist on hand. The Devil Inside has a very good one and her name is Pixie Le Knot. She is very cute by the way. We also learn that pupil dilation is another sign of possession. David is a physician and monitors the girl's vitals while Ben performs the Rite. At this point Bell comes up with some creepy scenes that turned out to be mostly funny rather than scary. Ultimately, the group decides to "evaluate" Maria and of course this all goes bad for the quartet and bad things happen.
The Devil Inside's plot premise is weak at best. A kid wants to explore her psychotic mother is really possessed and brings a camera along. Two priests going rouge and performing exorcisms behind the Vatican's back. The acting is actually pretty good by Andrade, Quarterman, and Helmuth. I just hope that the bad plot and crappy ending don't hurt their careers too much. Camera work for this film was shaky but not overly distracting. Any musical score was either nonexistent or unmemorable. One of the main reasons I don't like "found footage" films is that it gives the writer/director an excuse for not filling us in with details that give the audience a sense that they are not be cheated at the story level. In the case of The Devil Inside, certain character points are only hinted at, like Isabella's abortion, Ben's death wish for his uncle and his mentor. Plot holes abound all through the storyline make me wonder if it was budget issues or is this film really just a ruse to get hits on their movie website.

I really don't like giving away the endings of films but in this case, I must. The film ends with Ben in the back seat of a car performing a quickie exorcism on Isabella while Michael is driving into a truck. Yes, the film ends with a bang and a crash. The film leaves the audience unresolved, and un-purged of their emotions. The director ends with a blank screen with just an invitation to check out the film's website therossifiles.com, which by these writing, ranks 36,183 in the United States according to Alexa.com. The site offers scant information about the film's main characters, a few links about exorcism, links to websites about demon possession, and how to become an exorcist. The website is not even worth your time. You can get better links just by typing demon possession into Google.

Don't waste your money going to the theaters to see The Devil Inside. I wouldn't even recommend this film for DVD either unless you are really hard-up for some "demon-thrill." Better picks would be The Last Exorcism from 2010 or even Sam Raimi's instant classic Drag Me to Hell from the same year.

Movie Data

Genre: Horror, Thriller
Year:  2012
Staring: Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quarterman, Evan Helmuth
Director:  William Brent Bell
Producer(s): Lorenzo di Bonaventura,Steven Schneider,Matthew Peterman,Morris Paulson
Writer: William Brent Bell, Matthew Peterman
Rating: R
Running Time: 83 minutes
Release Date: 1/6/2012

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