January 8, 2012

Movie Review: The Devil Inside

When I exited the theater and friends asked me what I thought of The Devil Inside, I wanted to tell them to stick to the INXS song. The problem was that I was fairly certain a goo portion of them would have no idea what I was referring too. Maybe I am wrong and they do know the tune, in which case I would love to be proven wrong. In any case, the opinion stands. This is not a good movie. Sure, I have seen worse, but I have also seen much better and for the more discriminating cinema goer, there are better exorcism movies of recent vintage to enjoy, such as The Rite and The Last Exorcis(no, I am not kidding).

Frankly, a movie called The Devil Inside should either be a devilishly clever and diabolical satanic film with plenty of blood, sacrifice, and gratuitous nudity, or it should be a documentary about the career of INXS. Instead, what we get is a half backed exorcism movie that wants to feel like a found footage but not actually be found footage. It wants to sucker you in with surface schmaltz and leave you wondering just what it is you saw and why you saw it.

I have to admit that I had some decent expectations for it going in. I swear I saw some positive buzz around it prior to its release. Then there was that fateful night before release screening where the hate and distaste started popping up online. I still had my hopes for it, but they were definitely tempered in the wake of this.

The Devil Inside does have some good ideas, so it isn't a complete waste. The premise is that Isabella Rossi's (Fernanda Andrade) mother killed three people, including two priests, during an exorcism that was being performed on her. The mother was declared insane and quickly moved to a facility in Rome, not far from the Vatican and their exorcism school. Now, Isabella is now grow up and has learned the truth about what happened that night and has decided to make a documentary on her investigation.

Frankly, I quite dig that basic idea. I even enjoyed the movie early on. The problem is that after the good opening, it all goes downhill. Isabella arrives in Rome, with cameraman in tow. She visits the exorcism school and conveniently sits in on a discussion of demonic transference and then meets a couple of priests who are more than willing to go against the Church in regards to bringing people to exorcisms, recording the ceremonies, and performing them on people who may not necessarily need them. All of this is key to what happens.

Isabella is taken to an exorcism and sees what happens prior to meeting with her mother. She then goes to the big meeting where mommy acts all kooky and stuff. Well, there is enough there to warrant an attempt at an exorcism. Now, you can probably guess where this is beginning to head. Obviously nothing goes as they planned, people die, things happen, bang end of movie.

Moving through the movie is kind like walking downhill that gradually gets steeper and steeper until you can no longer walk, your momentum turn into a run and before you know it, you fall of the cliff. You fall and fall and wonder just what happened, then you realize you don't care because soon enough you won't remember anything.

It seems at times the creators were hoping to coast by on jump scares and creepy visuals. It is like they were banking on young audiences ignoring what was being said. The screenplay is littered with bad lines being delivered by questionable performances. It is filled with coincidences that feel as such. I guess they should be credited for not wasting any time, it is too bad the necessary expositional coincidences needed to save that time feel unnatural.

Then there is the ending, which left a lot of people annoyed. I cannot claim to be a fan of it, although I have come to respect it a little bit. It certainly takes the typical routes out of play. The problem is that it is not satisfying, even in a "leave the asking questions" fashion. The Devil Inside ends abruptly, too abruptly. It sort of makes sense in a "how can we end this thing" fashion, but never addresses any possible endgame for the characters. Perhaps I want to much from it.

Whatever. The movie is not completely terrible, but it does get dangerously close. It is no a movie I can recommend, unless you are die hard to see all exorcism movies. I would even recommend Exorcismus over this. It also makes me sad to see this movie hit theaters nationwide when movies like Trick R' Treat and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil barely even register, if at all.

Not Recommended.

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