The Devil Inside: DVD Review
A few decent scares struggle to overcome some huge fundamental flaws.
The Devil Inside drew some real derision on its theatrical run, often being labelled as one of the worst films of a fledgling 2012, and symptomatic of the horror genre’s failings in recent times. Whilst it may not be quite so hysterically bad on home viewing, there are still several flaws that mark this out as an average film which produced a great trailer.
The story is a simple one – Isabella Rossi (Fernanda Andrade) travels to Italy to find out the truth about her mother, sectioned in a Rome mental institution. Taking a documentary filmmaker along to record her findings, it soon becomes clear that her mother’s murderous rampage of 20 years ago had a far more demonic root than it appears. Two young renegade priests, who perform exorcisms away from the regulation of the church, take the pair along, in an attempt to oust the demonic presence which has caused so much trouble already.
The first problem the film faces is its aesthetic – the found footage stylings never really feel like something the filmmakers have committed to. As the lone filmmaker casually tosses up multiple camera set-ups in no time at all, no nod to realism is even attempted. One of these set-ups so transparently lays the foundations for the climactic scenes as to raise a giggle, as three cameras are placed in a location (we’ll stay spoiler-free) which has no relevance to the investigation whatsoever.
Andrade makes for a decently sympathetic lead, particularly after a half-twist early on which could potentially have opened the door for an evocative debate on some weighty subjects, but sadly doesn’t. The rest of the cast are solid and unremarkable, with the exception of Suzan Crowley as Isabella’s tormented mother – a genuinely creepy and menacing turn which powers the best scenes in the film.
To be totally fair to The Devil Inside, it should be said that it does get the scares right – possession is a subject matter that is still crying out for a decent film to be made of it, and in the actual horror scenes there isn’t too much to object to here. The effects are decent, and a creeping dread is present and correct during exorcism scenes. An early scene in which Isabella meets her mother for the first time is a particularly tense encounter, and feels like a cut scene from a better film.
Sadly, after a first 20 minutes or so that set up what could have been a decent little shocker (the unlicensed exorcisms are a cool concept) , the wheels come off as the script succumbs to the sort of stupidity that horror is becoming known for these days. Characters act with no logic, and as such we totally lose interest, and fear, towards the end.
It is the ending that has caused the most outcry with The Devil Inside, and it is easy to see why. The film is criminally short at around an hour and a quarter, and ends so abruptly that audiences will feel short-changed, particularly when a web link appears onscreen, essentially assigning us homework. That said, for all its flaws, the Devil Inside does supply a few decent scares, and will be worth a look for anybody after a jump or two.