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The Birth of the Devil, Shot With a Camcorder: Devil’s Due Retrospective (Minor Spoilers)
The original movie poster
It's all fire and brimstone when you're pregnant with a devil
Just like my last review, a while ago I watched another horror movie that was somewhat similar to Rosemary’s Baby, but I felt that because critics compared it to that, the film’s score was underrated. That movie is called Devil’s Due, which came out in 2014 and directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin.
The film’s plot revolves around newly married couple Zach and Samantha McCall. While going on their honeymoon to the Dominican Republic they go out one night to party. They meet a strange taxi driver who takes them to a club where they become incoherent and get surrounded by a strange light. They mysteriously wake up back in their hotel room with no memory of the previous night. Sometime after returning home Sam finds out that she somehow became pregnant, despite constantly taking birth-control pills. Throughout her pregnancy Sam constantly exhibits strange behavior and bizarre events begin to happen around her and her husband.
Off the bat, the most obvious thing about the film is the fact that it’s shot ‘found-footage’ style, just like in films The Blair Witch Project and Chronicle. Most of the story is told through a single camera carried by Zach, though other angles are shown through surveillance footage. Despite The Blair Witch Project doing it over a decade earlier it’s still a very creative and unique idea. However there is a major problem with this that comes from the plot. The film actually opens in an interrogation room with Zach in handcuffs, covered in blood, and being questioned by the police. The story is shown in a flashback which begs the question why didn’t the police check Zach’s cam footage to see what, how, and why the events happened.
Speaking of Zach, he’s played by Zach Gilford. Zach is one of the two main protagonist in the film who is very friendly and likable. His main focus is obviously adjusting to his new life with his spouse and getting use to the idea of becoming a father. He makes casual jokes often and is playful towards his wife. The other protagonist is Samantha ‘Sam’, played by Allison Miller. Sam is just as adorkable as Zach, as she is often playful and sarcastic. When things begin going south both she and Zach still manage to smile and make light of the situations. You do feel for both Zach and Sam and hope they make it through the things that happen to them later in the film. Gilford and Miller have a strong chemistry together that made them feel like a real married couple.
When Sam becomes pregnant, she and Zach spend time building a nursery and recording home movies for their child. As the film goes on Sam begins acting differently. She experiences out of character moments, such as lashing out when she feels that she and her child are in danger, a random nose bleed, becomes quieter and stares off into space. During her pregnancy she also often experiences random pains in her womb. Later she begins exhibiting even more bizarre and paranormal attributes, such as eating raw meat and gaining telekinetic abilities.
Sam starts with one OB/GYN but gains a new one later on. Around that time several men sneak into Zach and Sam’s home and install several cameras to monitor the couple. These same people are occasionally spotted in the background outside the house standing around watching the two. It does make you wonder with all that’s happening how did Zach and Sam not discover any of the cameras in their home, or call the police and tell them about the people sneaking around their house. It takes Zach a while but he eventually looks back at his recorded footage to see what’s been happening, but it’s a wonder as to why it took him so long to do so.
Zach takes note of Sam’s strange behavior, such as going blank, waking up in the middle of the night wide-eyed, walking around in pitch blackness at night in a trance, raging out, and other odd phenomenon since she became pregnant. He eventually pieces together that something unearthly has happened to her and learns that she’s actually pregnant with the antichrist. The breaking point seemed to come when Sam apparently causes a priest, the same priest who married them (played by Sam Anderson) to have a severe nosebleed during a communion. Sam also begins to realize that she’s not herself. Zach investigates and finds that the strange people stalking him and Sam are actually a cult who worship the antichrist.
A bit of a spoiler, the tensest part of the film is when Zach sneaks into the cult’s house one night to learn more about them. The climax is both intense, a spectacular display of effects, and a rather heartbreaking conclusion that comes full circle with the start of the film. As I mentioned earlier, no one bothered to check Zach’s footage to see what was happening. It’s not just his footage, but all the surveillance footage, such as store cameras, authorities didn’t check them to see what was happening, which makes one wonder why Zach is where he is at the beginning and end of the film. Besides the footage, it’s also a question as to why it took so long to figure out what was happening with Sam as the clues felt obvious.
Being a found footage film, there really isn’t much music. The only music you hear is background noise, such as a band playing at Sam and Zach’s wedding.
The entire structure of the film starts off lighthearted and peaceful but gradually changes to dark and serious and by the end of the film it becomes a tragedy that hits you in the feels. Personally I believe Devil’s Due is an extremely underrated film that shouldn’t be compared to Rosemary’s Baby, while similar this film goes in a different direction. The film does end on a bit of a cliffhanger without a sequel. In all, Devil’s Due is worth seeing as it has some pretty creative ideas and very likable protagonists. Because of this it’s heart wrenching seeing the things that happens to them later. It’s an emotional ride that’s cloaked in a horror story and while it may not have a lasting appeal, is still a story worth seeing.