I get annoyed lately when I find myself constantly defending positions that get harder and harder to defend. I’m the guy who keeps saying that movies from The Asylum aren’t THAT bad. I’m the guy who used to still insist that Danny Dyer could be good fun in the right roles. And now I’m the guy who finds himself saying to others that found footage movies aren’t all necessarily terrible and lazy films, good things can still come from the choice to shoot in that style. Hmmmm, then a film like The Devil Inside comes along and makes me look a fool.
The Devil Inside is a poor film. Directed by William Brent Bell, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Matthew Peterman, it’s a film that feels lazy and even slightly contemptuous of its audience (most noticeably with the displeasing ending that doesn’t even feel like an ending). There are one or two good scenes, including an exorcism sequence at about the halfway mark that impresses with a number of nasty little details, but too much just feels as if it’s been plucked from other, better movies.
Fernanda Andrade plays Isabella Rossi, a young woman trying to understand just what happened to her mother (Suzan Crowley) many years ago to drive her to murder. Her mother has been kept in an institution for many years but Isabella becomes increasingly convinced that the problem may require more than drugs and therapy. It may require faith. With the help of two young priests, played by Simon Quarterman and Evan Helmuth, she sets out to learn as much as she can about exorcisms and to get evidence that will lead to the church permitting the treatment of her mother. Ionut Grama plays Michael Schaefer, the man trying to capture everything on camera.
The acting is acceptable from all involved, though nobody is actually good with the exception of Crowley, but that’s about all the movie has going for it. Once again, there’s the problem inherent in this type of movie – just who the hell keeps recording during those circumstances – and there’s a script that signposts everything about to happen in large, neon lights. There are some moments in which those involved try to sound serious and intelligent but they are laughably feeble attempts to justify the nonsense still to come.
William Brent Bell manages to do well with two decent set-pieces but he lets himself, and viewers, down with the rest of the film. And if you’re going to end with a card that directs people to a website just before the end credits roll then you’d better have something outstanding that makes them want to investigate things further. Something as intriguing and intense as The Blair Witch Project, for example, which did make me want to find out more about the fictional subject. The Devil Inside isn’t intriguing, isn’t intense and isn’t worth wasting time on once the credits have rolled.
DIRECTOR: WILLIAM BRENT BELL
WRITER: WILLIAM BRENT BELL, MATTHEW PETERMAN
STARS: FERNANDA ANDRADE, SIMON QUARTERMAN, EVAN HELMUTH, IONUT GRAMA, SUZAN CROWLEY, BONNIE MORGAN
RUNTIME: 83 MINS APPROX