Devil’s Due as directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett is another horror film in the “found footage” genre, a decidedly wrong-headed decision for what might have been a passable suspense picture. Using this motif, however, the directors and writer Lindsay Devlin have had to toss believability and rationality out the window to justify their concept and have reduced potentially powerful scenes into occasional eye-rolling nonsense. No doubt produced inexpensively, the film may evoke a few shudders, but that’s about it, and the reasonable viewer will instead opt for a replay of Rosemary’s Baby which is ever so much better with the same basic plot.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Run Time: 1 Hr. 29 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, UltraVioletkeep case in a slipcover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 04/29/2014
Newlyweds Zach (Zach Gilford) and Samantha (Allison Miller) McCall spend their last night on their Dominican Republic honeymoon visiting a palm reader who has doleful pronouncements to make after scrutinizing Samantha’s palm. Picked up outside by a friendly cabby (Roger Payano) who insists on taking them to a “fun place,” something mysteriously ominous occurs to the intoxicated couple who then find themselves back in their hotel room the next morning with no memory of how the evening ended or how they returned to their room. Upon returning home, Samantha learns she’s pregnant, surprising since she’d been ever so careful in taking the pill, the first in a confusing and ever-growing series of horrific developments during her pregnancy leading Zach to believe something strange is going on that they have no control over.
The Production Rating: 2/5
Because the filmmakers love the “found footage” concept, they must spend an inordinate amount of time setting up why Zach is photographing every move the couple makes (even to his beginning to wear a mini “adventure cam” on his shirt to catch everything so he doesn’t have to lug a camera everywhere). Even with this, the directors still have to cheat to incorporate security footage from a grocery store’s video camera and footage from hidden cameras placed around the couple’s house by the cult that has impregnated Samantha with the devil’s spawn. As Samantha becomes more possessed by the evil embryo (unnatural nocturnal reactions, violent nosebleeds, superhuman strength), Zach (who has a job but never seems to go to work) takes an unreasonable amount of time to get suspicious and finally to call out for help from friends and family. It’s all preposterous, of course, with an alien obstetrician who takes over Samantha’s case midway through her term (how does he come and go in the hospital with no one noticing), members of the cult who position themselves around the house (which no neighbors complain about), and Samantha herself who carves up patterns in the nursery floor without Zach noticing anything out of the ordinary. Directors Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett manage a scare or two with some pagan power displays out in the woods when some kids come across Samantha and the cult during one of her possession odysseys, and the sound engineer makes a couple of jump shock “boo” moments simply by cranking up the volume, a fairly cheap trick. But because the movie is told in flashback, real, mounting suspense is thwarted, the filmmakers being seemingly content with a few meager scares along the way.
Allison Miller and Zach Gilford are decent actors, but the roles they’ve been given are thinly drawn and have been made implausibly stupid, all for the sake of the suspense which doesn’t earn them much audience sympathy as they make one bungling decision after another. Sam Anderson has some good scenes as the local priest who comes to an expectantly bad end, and Vanessa Ray as Zach’s sister Suzie likewise has a decent moment or two before she gets too inquisitive. DeMaris Gordon is most effective as the palm reader/psychic who starts off the couple’s downhill slide toward doom.
The film is presented in its theatrical 1.85:1 aspect ratio and in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. With footage coming from camcorders and other video sources, image quality to mimic those motifs is sometimes compromised to achieve the effect the filmmakers are after. That means pulsating line twitter and moiré patterns. Color and skin tone accuracy is about what you expect in the found footage genre. Black levels are good but not great. The film has been divided into 28 chapters.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix comes very close to reference quality with the full soundstage utilized most effectively in party, club, and street scenes with believable and effusive ambience fed to the fronts and rears. Dialogue has been well recorded and is mostly in the center channel though there is some most effective directionalized dialogue later in the movie. The LFE channel gets a solid workout especially during the film’s climactic birth sequence.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5
Audio Commentary: directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett and producers Chad Villella and Justin Martinez enthusiastically recall anecdotes from the eighteen month birthing period from the writing of the script through the film’s premiere.
Special Features Rating: 3.5/5
Deleted Scenes (16:35, HD): nine scenes (including an extended ending sequence) may be viewed individually or in montage.
Radio Silence: A Hell of a Team (12:18, HD): directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett and producers Chad Villella and Justin Martinez (who also serves as director of photography) talk about their earlier short found footage films and how they led to this feature.
Directors’ Photo Album: more than one hundred behind-the-scenes pictures can be stepped through manually or automatically.
Ashes to Ash (0:54, HD): a special effects shot
The Last Time (3:30, HD): a supernatural short with Spanish speaking actors (English subtitles) encountering creepy events in a filthy sewer.
Roommate Alien Prank Goes Bad (2:19, SD): a short film by the film’s directors trying out some of their found footage fright techniques.
Mountain Devil Prank Fails Horribly (3:26, SD): another found footage short by the same team
Theatrical Trailer (1:21, HD)
Promo Trailers (HD): Road Kill 3, A Time to Kill, American Horror Story: Asylum, Robocop.
DVD/Ultraviolet: disc and code sheet enclosed in the case.
You’ll find some cheap thrills in Devil’s Due if you’re willing to turn off your brain and forget the film’s inanities and instead concentrate on the fairly successful spell wrought by the movie’s four filmmakers. A rental would seem to be the more reasonable approach to watching this item; replay value would seem to be weak.
Overall Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
Support HTF when you buy this title: