Film Review: The Devil Inside
Don’t believe the hype.
The Devil Inside really isn’t that bad (but the ending really is).
TL;DR All things considered this is a well-paced, effective low-budget thriller. There are some mortifying plot inconsistencies and the documentary style isn’t conistent, but it gets the job done. That ending is unforgivable, though. 3 out of 5 stars.
I think the fact that the “hand held exorcism movie” genre even exists is a bit worrisome.
Basic plot follows Isabelle, a young woman whose mother murdered some people during an exorcism. Isabella is trying to track her down in a Rome mental hospital to find some answers 20 years later. She has partnered with a documentary filmmaker for this journey. Also, ghostbusters (demonbusters?).
There’s two big problems here. One, the ending, I’ll get to later. The other has to do with the demonbusters and stems from the “this is a documentary” framing device.
When Isabella and Michael (the filmmaker) meet with David and Ben (the demonbusters), they very easily reveal the fact that they do unapproved exorcisms against the rules of the Vatican. They even allow Isabella and Michael to witness and film one.
Then, about 5 seconds later, when Isabella’s like “hey, you guys do exorcisms illegally. Mind helping a sister and her possessed-ass mother out?” they fucking flip their shit. They go on about how bad it would be if the Vatican found out about them doing the unsanctioned exorcisms and how it’s unethical. Dudes, they just FILMED you not only confessing your activities (and showing off all your equipment), but you also took them to one of the exorcisms. Do you have fucking amnesia? What the fuck?
Nobody mentions this, by the way.
The whole documentary thing falls to shit as well at about the halfway point. Up until then it had all looked pretty legit. They had Isabella’s journey’s footage spliced in with interview footage with experts. They’re even captioned all neatly and professionally. Then that all evaporates to make way for your standard “camera following the action around” found footage film.
While the documentary format is upheld, however, I had a good time with this. It was slick, to the point, and creepy. The exorcism scenes are scary and there are some decent stunts. And get this, no gratuitous shaky-cam! Yes, The Hunger Games, it is possible.
Why I hate this movie:
It’s inconsistent, dammit. And it started off so well, too.
The ending is a piece of fucking shit. Here’s the setup: Michael is driving Ben and a now-possessed Isabella to another priest’s house to get her exorcised. She wakes the fuck up in the car. This was never going to go well. The head-on collision with the truck is what tears it, though.
It’s bad enough to abruptly end your horror movie with “and they all die,” but this knocks it up a notch. We clearly see a now-possessed Michael undo his seatbelt and floor it. Ben and Isabella aren’t wearing seatbelts. They collide head-on with a truck on a non-residential road (so we can assume the truck is going at a decent speed). So you’d think they’d get splattered into nothing? Wrong!
We get a cut to footage of the car rolling, eventually coming to a stop with all 3 characters dead but in one piece. Inside the mostly undamaged car. No. I don’t think head-on collisions work how this movie thinks they work. All not wearing seatbelts? Instant splatter. The car would be a scattering of shredded metal with chunks of flesh mixed in. Not this tasteful rolling bullshit. God, I don’t recommend going looking for pictures of bad car crashes, but how dumb do they think we are?
Also, I always think when watching possession movies: don’t demons have higher aspirations? They’re so supposed to be unholy abominations from before time began. Why are they rolling around, making somebody act like a lesbian and spewing? Do they really not have any other plans? That’s not this film’s fault, but I’m just sayin’.
After they exorcise Isabella’s mum, Ben and David send their footage and shit to the Vatican for authentication. David then freaks out when they’re busted for performing unauthorised exorcisms. Ummm…
Oh, and when Isabella and Michael are talking to the exorcism students, one of them is a massive skeptic and doesn’t believe in any of it one bit. Why the hell are you at exorcism school, then?
Reasons to watch:
The documentary style was a nice change of pace from the “this was discovered in the woods/somewhere spooky. You watch now” format that we usually get.
The crime scene walk through footage at the beginning was pretty grisly and realistic looking. Reminded me of the one they had in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake.
Up until the point where our 4 main characters suddenly become assholes to one another, I actually cared about Isabella. She seemed like a genuine, relatable person who just wanted answers.
And you know what? When they do all turn on each other, that works too. It provides some much-needed tension following Maria (Isabella’s mum)’s exorcism. And even though the ending was abrupt, I kinda like that we didn’t get any closure with Maria. I think Paranormal Activity 3 understood the “less is more” concept for this genre. Blair Witch did it well, too.
The contortionist they have playing Rosa was awesome. If they’d CGI’d that shit, I would have been so pissed off. And when she vagina-bled during the exorcism, it was appropriately funny and disgusting. Both exorcism scenes were very sastisying.
Best line of the movie goes to Maria (while possessed): “Shove that needle in your fuckin’ eye, you faggot.” So matter of fact about it, too.
And even though I saw it coming, the baptism scene was hilariously nasty. I don’t like kids.
Sure, the ending sucked. But horror movies have that coming. And if the characters can ignore the plot inconsistencies, I suppose I can, too. Oh, and any found footage film that can go without endless shaky-cam is worth watching. 3 out of 5 stars.