Wednesday, January 23, 2013

REVIEW: The Devil Inside (2012)

Have we no shame as a culture? Have we no decisive judgment to tell us that maybe, just maybe, it’s better to just NOT make a movie sometimes? Freedom of expression is well and good, but just because some hack has an idea to make a movie…doesn’t mean any such movie has to be made. I know that seems harsh, but honestly, just honestly, would the world have been a worse off place without the spawn of The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Paranormal Activity?

It’s not even like any real creative expression is coming out in stuff like this…everything we see nowadays is all found-footage garbage about exorcisms and demons inside people. Is that really the sum of society’s fears, in this age where we can look up anything online and find out the facts of whatever scares us? I really don’t buy that. We have access to so many new, horrific ideas with our newfound technology, so many sources of inspiration for filmmakers to draw from, such as the depths of the ocean, the furthest reaches of space and the strange animals, climates and mental maladies that populate our own Earth…and we keep making religious possession movies with the same old themes over and over, until our brains leak out our ears, like The Devil Inside!

Director: William Brent Bell
Starring: Fernanda Andrade, THE DEVIL

Holy Christ this is the limits. Let’s start with a hypothetical example to illustrate the worth of this film, to show you what exactly you’re getting into when you watch this: You take every awful cliché, every poor story-writing choice that plagues horror films these days, jot down a script, and then decided it was too horrible to conceive and threw it away. Your script is discovered by The Asylum and given the poorly-produced, poorly-acted, poorly-directed treatment they think makes for good cinema…well, your hypothetical bad horror movie is still better than The Devil Inside.

Let’s just get started…we kick off with some police footage of a bunch of murders in a house. This is pretty much the only redeeming scene in the film as it builds up some suspense and generally works as a good starting point for a horror film. It also is the only scene where the poor production values are actually believable.

Wow, what a horrible sight to behold....did they buy this camera at a garage sale in the 70s or something?! I guess this scene is supposed to be set back in the 80s or whatever, but the camera quality doesn't change much when we get to yes, I guess they did just buy that camera at a garage sale somewhere.

After that the film just jumps off a cliff. We are introduced to the main character, Isabella, played by Fernanda Andrade…Fernanda, I am sure you’re a very nice person in real life, but really, I don’t have anything good to say about your acting in this. It’s probably not even your fault…it’s probably some Hollywood studio that just really needed to make a buck or two. How’s that workin’ out for ya, Hollywood? Either that or a cave dweller who hasn’t kept up with the fact that everyone and their grandma has made a movie exactly like this in the last three years.

Anyway, this girl is just unlikable from the start…the first thing she says is, her mom used to be a nice person. Nice sentiment but…right after a scene where we see the people she murdered? Kinda mismatched there, movie!

Yeah, that is a pretty horrible looking, nasty looking green puppet...the state of puppetry in 1989 is definitely enough to give a little girl such a sad face. I totally get this movie now.

So of course this girl has the money to go to Italy right in her pocket, as all twenty-somethings do, so off she goes! She takes some other doofus with her, because the movie needs someone to hold the camera…wonderful…they meet with a few priests, who start blabbing on camera about exorcisms and possessions and stuff, without actually asking what she’s filming for. It’s just like, “Oh, hey, we’ll totally just talk to you and tell you whatever you want……..hey, what is this for again? It’s for a court case brought against the church? OK, cool; didn’t want those jobs we had anyway!” Pfft.

I don’t even get these priest guys either. They say there’s really no such thing as exorcisms until Isabella tells them that her mother was possessed…”there’s no such things as exorcisms, except those exorcisms we conveniently forgot to tell you about in the last scene.” Next!

"Hey, I look constipated all the time! I can't wait to get possessed later and blow my own brains out! BRAINSSSSS! SPOILERSSSSSS!"

That’s a minor niggle, sure, but it’s symbolic of the brainlessness which plagues this film…for instance, I know it’s commonplace now to have these stupid camera movies make up excuses to get the camera filming everything no matter how implausible it would be in real life. I get that. But this…it doesn’t even try! Literally it just doesn’t even bother making excuses half the time. Like this scene, where they go to see the mother for the first time – oh yeah, they’d totally let you take a video camera into a mental asylum to see a patient who was known for having violent outbursts. That happens every day.

I also love how they say the mother is averse to anything religious and that the characters shouldn’t mention God or anything around her. Firstly, what, is the hospital under the impression that these people are a bunch of Jehovah’s Witnesses going around with a video camera and trying to convert asylum patients to the word of Christ? Secondly, right after saying that, we see they have brilliantly allowed the mother to have inverted crosses on the walls and carved into her skin even!

Wouldn’t it make sense to, I dunno, take away any means she has of making these images, if they are the only things that set off her crazy-meters? Maybe I just don’t get the complex inner workings of a mental hospital…or maybe this is the kind of place that would also allow savage murderers access to knives as well as information on where the security guards and their families live, with unlimited yard time and access to the public transit system to boot. Makes sense!

The mother is a piece of work, too; completely nuts, but that would happen to anyone who watched The Exorcist enough times and memorized Linda Blair’s performance down to the letter. I mean, you gotta have some variation. At least watch some Paul Newman movies, or maybe Robert Mitchum in Night of the Hunter if you want some inspiration…anything besides the super-generic ‘tell you something awful about yourself that nobody knows’ stuff we get here.

Oh, the main character had an abortion because she couldn’t carry the baby safely to term? The horror! It would be marginally dramatic, maybe, if she showed any reaction to it, but the character is completely soulless and never even reacts at all…yeah, great drama, movie. Great drama. So was the mother just going to sit around and be docile in a mental ward for the rest of her life if these morons didn’t come in and start doing this shit? Way to have a self-fulfilling prophecy, movie – I’m so invested I never want to watch anything else again!

The last sentence was a lie.

There are some boring scenes with lots of silly screaming and body contortions that would make some new-age circus performers jealous, but for the rest of the world, are just ridiculous. If you’ve seen any horror movie ever, none of this will be of any interest…I just can’t get over how hard this is riding The Exorcist. Most movies of this type are at least borrowing from it, but The Devil Inside is full on skinning The Exorcist and wearing its skin in a very poorly stitched together mask. And it’s sad how they think we will be convinced by this outright plagiarism, this absence of any kind of genuine thought.

Ooh, ooh, is she going to speak in crazy foreign languages, say offensive things and twist around like a mental patient making a balloon animal? So new and exciting!...if you've never seen a horror movie before in your life and also lived in a cave so as to not even understand references to popular horror movies...
Man, Elvira isn't looking too good these days.

Then they go on to some boring shit with the priests having crises of faith and all kinds of stuff I’d care about if I had no taste and was a lobotomy patient, maybe. There’s some babble about the Church not believing anything they show them, but it’s in the background and never becomes anything interesting. The characters all talk to the camera at one point or another like it’s their therapist, and, really, I’m so bored I could fall asleep on my keyboard…there’s like, what, a minute’s worth of drama between them before one of them goes and gets possessed?


I just love how they tell this guy “just fight it.” Yeah! Just fight it! Great advice, man; you’re the best ever! I’m sure that guy never thought to just fight the possession! He considered his options and that one just never came up in the lottery at all! In fact, all those other people in other movies who got possessed by demons? They just didn’t fight it enough.

We then see what that guy’s great advice truly amounted to…

Amazing. Then it’s time for Isabella to get possessed, because, hey, they don’t have any other ideas on what to do next. We see her cutting up some hospital staff with a knife, because, again, why not just allow random people to carry cameras around in hospitals, especially right after a new patient has been admitted? Totally safe. And in the car we even see that apparently, a one-camera found footage movie can have multiple angles showing a fast paced fight scene…just like if it was edited in a studio! Totally seamless! Looks so real, like a documentary!

Did someone put a camera right in front where the driver should be able to see the road? What the hell?

The movie just ends right when their car flips over and the camera blacks out. I guess that’s not a bad ending or anything, but really, it doesn’t make the rest of the movie any better. Like I said in the opening – where’s any reason to watch this at all? It’s totally cliché and trite. If you’ve seen The Exorcist, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Last Exorcism, The Possession, The Rite or any of the other godforsaken movies like this from the last few years, there are no surprises! Everything is redundant and tired. The characters are cardboard cutouts and they move through the age-old hoops of possession, screaming, body contortions, and boring priests talking about their faith…nothing is new, nothing is interesting. It’s practically a spectacle: a film so bland and unoriginal that it almost becomes something new in and of itself.

It would be one thing if this was executed with some kind of energy, or at least some real production value where the camera didn’t look like it had mud smeared all over the lenses, but hell, why not just make your movie as visually unappealing as it is mentally deficient? The Devil Inside is an equal-opportunity bad movie. Not to mention the pacing is horrible, skipping through its scenes like the director's finger was already on the fast forward button - if you're not interested in your own movie enough to slow down and let us enjoy the scenes, what's the point? Just keep it to your mom's basement.

If you really want to see something as literally creatively dead as it gets without just not existing at all, go ahead and watch this movie. And weep. But if you want a good horror movie, go watch V/H/S instead!

That’s much better than this and in fact, I’ll tell you all why in my next review.

This review brought to you by THE DEVIL. Also, none of these images belong to me, they belong to their original owners.