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The Devil Inside Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Neil Middlemiss

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Neil Middlemiss

The Devil Inside enjoyed a monster first weekend box office haul. Made for a reported budget of $1MM it pulled in almost 34 times that during the opening weekend frame. It doesn’t matter that its second weekend drop off was monstrously precipitous (76%), the film was already a major success. That the film is mostly reviled on the major aggregate opinion sites (IMDB, Rotten Tomato’s etc.) speaks to what was obviously a pent up demand for a horror film after the holiday season (it was released theatrically in January) and the abject disappointment for this film not delivering the goods. But is that disappointment a fair assessment of what the film offers?

 


The Devil Inside

(Best Buy Exclusive)


Studio: Paramount Pictures
Year: 2012
US Rating: R for Disturbing Violent Content and Grisly Images, and for Language Including Some Sexual References
Film Length: 83 Minutes
Video: MPEG-4 AVC 1080P High Definition

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese


Release Date: May 15, 2012 (Best Buy exclusive). September 11, 2012 (Wide release)

Review Date: May 21, 2012


“Let my mother go!”


The Film

2.5/ 5


Note: The Devil Inside was previously available as a Best Buy exclusive but is now available from other retailers.


The Devil Inside begins in 1989 and at the site of a triple murder. A forensic team and the police investigators are documenting the scene of the crime. The scene is of a failed exorcism and it is gruesome. A woman, Maria Rossi, is arrested for the murders and we discover that she was the target of the exorcism. Tried and found not guilty by reason of mental defect Maria is taken to Rome and committed to a mental institution. The story jumps years ten years ahead where Maria’s daughter Isabella – who now knows the truth of her mother’s tragic story – wants to understand what happened. Was she possessed? Was she insane? Could the same thing happen to her?


Told documentary style as a camera crew follows Isabella to Rome and the (apparently not secret and open to filming) Exorcism school of the Vatican. She connects with two ordained exorcism priests who act outside of the Catholic Church’s accepted rules by taking on cases of possession that have not been deemed actual possessions. Deeming Isabella’s mothers case to be that of a possession, the two priests along with the film crew and Isabella set about freeing Maria Rossi from her ordeal.


The Devil Inside is a perfectly standard entry in the library of faux-documentary scary films but it is marked by the weight of its choreographed and obvious nature. Ominous tone and chills are sought by persistent ambient rumbling and the now contrived inclusion of the writhing of contortionist and double-jointed actresses. Scenes of fear and confusion by the principles on camera are stilted and rarely believable, and moments unfold with persistent and eye-rolling convenience. Perhaps the heaviest of burdens besetting this film is the cardinal sin of horror movies – it just isn’t all that compelling. After the parade of inconsequential moments captured on camera – including several with the ‘filmmaker’ – the film moves quickly to introduce some chills and scares. Some are effective, but most are cheap such as the jump of a barking dog or the scares from a possessed girl who far too easily escapes her restraints.  


Director and co-writer William Brent Bell has clearly studied the work of Orin Pell (Paranormal Activity) and Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez (The Blair Witch Project), but what has been learned of lulling audiences into tense moments and capturing fragments of action with darting, fleeting camera shots, are too easily betrayed by obvious digital tinkering of the footage (in most cases to give the appearance of more frantic camera movements amongst the chaos). The final and perhaps unforgivable disappointment comes with the films closing moments where whatever investment we may have made in the leads (Fernanda Andrade as Isabella Rossi, Simon Quarterman as Father Ben Rawlings, Evan Helmuth as Father David Keane and Suzan Crowley as Maria Rossi) is taken wholly for granted and betrayed in what can generously be called a monumental miscalculation of what a haunting ending should be.



The Video

4/5


The aspect ratio for The Devil Inside matches that of its theatrical release – a clean and sharp looking 1.78:1 (save for the footage associated with 1989 which is presented as 1.33:1). The look of this film is a product of the locations and lighting chosen where for the most part it appears natural light was used as primary source (particularly at the institution where Maria Rossi is held). The image isn’t vibrant and expressive of rich colors, which would have seemed odd, and there is a dominance of the dreary, washed out hues matching the locations and the quality of the devices upon which the footage was filmed. Suitable HD quality.



The Sound

4/5


The English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is mostly asked to handle the frequent low rumbling ambient sounds (intended it seems to assist with upping the tension) and the directional effects and aggressive sound design found during exorcism scenes. Dialogue is heavily focused in the center channel and, without issues to speak of; the audio is as to be expected.



The Extras

0/5


No extras, no stars.



Final Thoughts


The Devil Inside, formerly a Best Buy exclusive on Blu-ray, is now available at other retailers and remains absent of any special features. The sowing of apparent considerably ill-will by the film’s ending notwithstanding, it isn’t as terrible as aggregating review sites would have you believe. There are effective scares peppered among the standard documentary style footage of people driving to locations, talking about expectations on camera, and other assorted moments. But there are plenty of  better horror movies out there. There are better faux-documentary horror films out there. Heck, there are better faux-documentary films about exorcisms out there (The Last Exorcism for example), but if you’ve seen them all and your interest is sufficiently peaked, rent first. The film’s 83 minute running time is elongated by some of the slowest moving closing credits I have ever seen, so even if you dislike it, you will have wasted just a little over an hour of your time. But be prepared to find how the movie ends frustrating at best.


Overall (Not an average)

3/5


Neil Middlemiss

Kernersville, NC

 

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