DIR: William Brent Bell • WRI: William Brent Bell, Matthew Peterman • PRO: Morris Paulson, Matthew Peterman • DOP: Gonzalo Amat • ED: William Brent Bell, Tim Mirkovich • DES: Tony DeMille • Cast: Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quarterman, Evan Helmuth, Ionut Grama
Horror fans hoping that William Brent Bell’s exorcism mockumentary The Devil Inside brings something new to the table will be left bitterly disappointed. Others merely in search of a decent plot and a good scare will be praying for the film to end.
The story follows a young woman Isabella (Fernanda Andrade) as she sets about unraveling the truth about her mother (Suzan Crowley), who was locked up in a mental institution in Rome after she brutally slaughtered three people during a botched exorcism 20 years ago. Isabella is joined on her mission by a filmmaker (Ionut Grama) and a pair of renegade priests (Simon Quarterman, Evan Helmuth).
The Devil Inside is little more than a mishmash of cliches and tacky gimmicks in a paint-by-numbers rehash of the many exorcism horrors that went before it.
The ‘found footage’ format works spine chillingly well in ParanormalActivity (2009) and Quarantine (2008) as does the ‘religion versus science’ storyline of The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) because they are supported by clever direction and compelling acting – all of which The Devil Inside so painfully lacks. Much like Eli Roth’s The Last Exorcism, (2010), the director’s attempts to create a shortcut to suspense with the shaky-cam style is clumsy and ineffective.
If a proper popcorn-hurling scare is created by moments the audience least expect, the lack of scares in The Devil Inside is because the audience has seen it all before – from the bone breaking contortions of the possessed that would put Lady Gaga to shame to the growling profanities of the demons within. The director’s desperate bids to spook the viewer frequently sicken rather than scare with outlandishly grisly images that border on offensive.
Any stab at originality – like the concept of demons leaping from one person, are half-baked and ultimately abandoned. The film ends so abruptly, it’s like the director, in realising what he had created, decided to kill his monster off before any more damage was done. But Aha! – a web address after the credits roll (if you stick around that long!) invites the viewer to “continue the investigation” with short video clips that fill in some of the gaps.
You can’t help but feel slightly cheated out of the full worth of your cinema ticket by this lame attempt to create a buzz around a film that failed to do so by its own merit.
The Devil Inside is released on 16th March 2012