The found footage films in the exorcism genre really need to stop because they’re purely retreading the same territory, turning things in a mush of crappy “scares” and little story. The latest movie to enter the genre is The Devil Inside. The trailers promote this as a “true” story when we all know it’s not (seriously filmmakers quit trying to make this device work) and the story goes into two completely different directions. It could have been mediocre, but just devolves into trash.
Isabella (Fernanda Andrade) goes to Italy to visit her mother Maria (Suzan Crowley). Maria has been institutionalized after murdering several people during a botched exorcism. Isabella goes not only to reconnect and find answers about her mother’s past, but also to prove or disprove whether possession and exorcisms are real. In the process Isabella takes part in an unauthorized exorcism that goes horribly awry.
The ideas presented in The Devil Inside are interesting and could have been fun to explore had this movie not been a faux-documentary. A skeptic trying to prove or disprove exorcism is something audiences just saw in 2010 with The Last Exorcism and that also had an interesting idea behind it (before falling victim to its own need to scare people). Traveling to Italy, the heart of religion for many, and trying to see how the Vatican and other places respond to exorcism would have also been interesting. The little nuggets of good thoughts associated with this movie keep it from being a total waste, but it just makes you think you could have taken those ideas and made a better movie.
The Devil Inside ultimately suffers from doing what every other fake documentary movie does to the point that you’ll start pointing to references and saying what movie their from. You have the typical contortionist character, the jump scares, the characters rehashing events to the camera, etc. The problem is the trailers play up this movie as being about Isabella reconnecting with her mother, and that’s only given about 20-30 minutes of screen time out of an 87 minute movie! Isabella meets her mother, stuff happens, and the mother is gone never to be seen again. After that you’re left with Isabella seeing a bunch of exorcism and things going bad…seen it all before! If this was just a regular narrative movie it could have worked but taking time out to have the characters talk about what happened drags things out and takes the scares out of what the audience has just seen. Certain scenes aren’t even recorded with people “accidentally” leaving the camera behind! If you’re not going to show us what apparently is so scary then why make this movie? I don’t know if it was budget constraints or what but many “scary” moments aren’t captured for the audience to see. Audiences are divided on the ending. It’s not perfect but worked for what the movie was trying to do. The problem is the ending is far too rushed and not nearly fleshed out, it just plays like a bad rip-off of similar downer endings from the Paranormal Activity franchise. The acting isn’t worth discussing as the characters are so stock. Suzan Crowley is good as the crazy mother while Andrade is pretty and nice as the daughter. Honestly, the actors are so bland I didn’t even remember character names!
The Devil Inside will only be worth seeing on DVD with your friends to make fun of. The plot is lifted from countless other exorcism movies of varying quality, the ending is flat, and the scares are just sloppy. Go see any other movie already on DVD in this genre, it’ll be a savings to your wallet.