The Devil Inside Review

Posted by Brian Salisbury - January 6th 2012 @ 3:41 pm

The Devil Inside, directed by Stay Alive‘s William Brent Bell, is the story of a young woman whose mother was committed to an asylum after she murdered three people during an exorcism; her own exorcism. The young daughter is now traveling to a hospital in Rome, where her mother was transferred, to examine the validity of her possession. She brings along a film crew to document the experience. As you have probably guessed from that last sentence, The Devil Inside is a found footage movie. More to the point it may be the end-all-be-all argument against found footage movies forever more. It is certainly among the worst I have yet seen.

In in the interest of full disclosure, I will admit I am a fan of this still young subgenre. I feel there is something to be said for the dismantling of the fourth wall and the safety net it provides us as jaded horror fans. That being said, I refuse to accept that any horror film told through the lens of a character-mounted camera is worth celebrating. But for much of its runtime, The Devil Inside‘s most heinous crime is that it courts convention with boyish adoration. It brings in plenty of manufactured experts to interview, it points out the multiple cameras in a given space, and employs some of the best looking fake news footage to date. Basically, it goes full faux. Within those moments, there are some exceedingly conventional tropes that will startle but not scare, eliciting a reaction that won’t linger in your consciousness beyond dying of the last murmur in the theater. And then there are some moments of stillness and some wicked contortion artistry that work fairly well and seem to promise a wholly passable found footage romp.

But then we reach a moment (just after a baptism-gone-bad) wherein the movie’s own logic begins to unravel. Reactions to extreme stimulus don’t merely stretch our ability to suspend disbelief, they blatantly fly in the face of common sense.  Things which are supposed to be crucial surprises are laid bare in random, intimate, ill-advised moments of psychotic, thrown-away candor. Characters babble  revealing vague backstory fragments into the lens that will then bare no further fruit. This is the point of no return. If you want to resign yourself that The Devil Inside is merely a bad film, get out now.


The Bible espouses that Christ’s coming will be “as a thief in the night.” Evidently Satan’s exit will be just as swift. Just as the third act kicks off, it ends. A heavily telegraphed plot twist, as in telegraphed and then transcribed into an email and sent to a contact list that includes anyone with eyes, bursts violently forth, the film completely pulls its own plug and aborts.  If the devil is in the details then The Devil Inside performs a de facto exorcism by not giving us any. I understand that it’s a found footage movie and therefore by nature a satisfying resolution to the story is likely to elude us. So I know how I must sound right now; willingly wandering out into a stormy night and then complaining about getting wet. But you cannot conceive of just how prematurely this movie concludes. The main plot points of the movie, which have barely been visited much less fleshed out, are wantonly abandoned. It goes beyond gimmick to a place I like to call Lazyville. The filmmakers then shovel their “based on a true story” bullshit into our gaping, baffled mouths and actually have the audacity to instruct us to seek more information at some contrived website; apparently entrusting the web designers to do the job they aren’t equipped to handle.

The reaction from the general public in that screening was not silent disappointment, but roaring, bilious hatred. I can only image how the public will react when they are actually asked to shell out hard-earned dollars to see this movie and realize that they are not seeing a film by artists. These are charlatans gleefully robbing them of their cash with a giant middle finger waving triumphantly in the air; money changers in the temple of film.

Am I really giving this film an F based on its ending? Absolutely. Is that fair? Entirely. When we were kids, when we insolently failed to complete our assignments, we were given a F. The filmmakers’ assignment for The Devil Inside was simply to deliver a completed film. Until they sack up, get off their lazy asses, and deliver an ending that does cheat and insult the intelligence of the audience, their F stands.

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  1. January 6th, 2012 | 4:07 pm | #1

    Thanks– you just saved me about 30 bucks and several hours!

  2. Joe
    January 6th, 2012 | 4:17 pm | #2

    Sounds like we were in the same theater though I know we were 1000 away from each other. The true shame of this is that it will probably make its one million dollar budget this weekend, guaranteeing us more of this crap filmmaking.

  3. January 7th, 2012 | 9:52 pm | #3

    Interesting perspective, I liked the movie. I have seen so many terrible horror movies. For a low budget film this film is amazing, I watch about 75 horror films a year and this is the type of film every indie horror film maker would love to make.

  4. chris
    January 7th, 2012 | 11:02 pm | #4

    this movie sucked ass it was like 2 hours of my life i will never get back and 20 dollars that could have be better used at another place

  5. Jamie
    January 8th, 2012 | 4:22 pm | #5

    None of you except Mike have good taste. I love horror movies and I’m going to see this tonight. I know im going to love it. Blasting movies that people worked hard for isn’t right. There are many different kinds of horror movies. But I think all of them are good. If it’s not the type of movie you like them fine, but dont insult it and blast it so badly.

  6. January 12th, 2012 | 4:51 pm | #6

    Well, you made up my mind at the found footage point. I’m found-footaged out. My gripe with POV found footage is it allows for cheating on the storyline, cutting corners with fleshing out the story, and noodling with expectations for a beginning, middle, and ending. I’ll catch this on DVD or on-demand. Thanks.

  7. Harry
    January 13th, 2012 | 10:16 am | #7

    i agree! here are the other horror movies to look out for :

  8. Jamie
    January 18th, 2012 | 6:18 pm | #8

    I loved this movie. It was great!!

  9. February 20th, 2012 | 10:15 am | #9

    My personal opinion about the film is that it is just a waste of time and money. They like using this exorcisim thingy a lot but I thik this time it is not that good as in the film Exorcist or the others.

  10. March 6th, 2012 | 6:36 pm | #10

    ive just seen the trailer and for what ive seen and read in many movie reviews including this one all the good stuff is in the trailer. i personally dont like movies that use found footage because usually that itself tells you that the person using the camera came to a bad end which sort ruins things. i think the only true believable hoax found footage movie is the blair witch project just because there was a back story set up long before the movie was filmed and even the three main characters familys were involved

  11. Chris
    June 4th, 2012 | 1:48 pm | #11

    This movie was a stinking pile of contrived crap…the website is just more crap…Blair Bait and Switch Project…I am so glad I Red Boxed it…The opening scene was interesting and disturbing in a did this really happen way, and then it just got boring and more uninteresting, and then wow, she can contort her body, and then, let’s steal her from the hospital and boom end…see the website for more of this fake story…er investigation…my investigation…how the hell did this movie take in 100 million it’s first weekend?

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