Posted by: Brad McHargue
Hello. My name is Brad McHargue and I hate movies.
Ok, that’s not entirely true. I love film, especially horror, though I will be the first to admit that I’m a relatively harsh critic. Maybe I have high expectations, or maybe I’m just sick and tired of the recycled tropes and cliches that my mind has been soured on the genre. I prefer to think it’s the exact opposite; for me, it has to do with finding that diamond in the rough, that one film that results in the sort of incessant fawning I give films such Pontypool and Session 9.
And it’s rare. Horror is an easy genre to break into due to its diversity and broad fan base, affording anyone with a camera, and the recipe for karo syrup, the opportunity to make a horror film. This is especially true with the advent of found footage, a sub-genre that requires little more than a camera, a loose outline, and someone off camera knocking on a door. Despite this, I love found footage horror, especially when I finally find one that is genuinely well-made, scary, and doesn’t fall back on that God damned “people will want to know what happened” excuse for filming while being chased by something that clearly wants to kill you.
Posted by: Brian Salisbury
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.