Movie Review: Um....
Director: William Brent Bell
Cast: Fernanda Andrade, Ionet Grama, Suzan Crowley, Evan Healmuth, Sinom Quaterman
For a good thirty minutes or so after seeing the film, I tried to think of some sarcastic remark to open my review for the truly terrible demonic possession thriller The Devil Inside, but nothing came to mind. It's a new day now, and I still can't think of anything. So instead of beating around the bush here, I'm going to be straight with you: The Devil Inside isn't just one of the worst movies of 2012, it's one of the worst movies ever made.
In 1989, a young mother named Maria Rossi (Suzan Crowley) murdered three clergy officials in her home while they were performing an exorcism on her. She was found not guilty by the courts by reason of insanity, and was sent to a mental institution in the states before the Vatican intervened and had her extradited to Centrino Mental Hospital in Rome (I didn't know the Catholic Church had that sort of power). Twenty years later, Maria's daughter Isabella (Fernanda Andrade) hires documentary filmmaker Michael Schaeffer (Ionet Grama) to follow her to Rome and try and figure out the truth about what happened to her mother. Their first stop is an exorcism class in the Vatican, which, apparently, any random tourist with a movie camera can waltz right into and record the entire class session. There, they meet two priests David (Evan Healmuth) and Ben (Simon Quarterman).
David and Ben are convinced that the church has tried to cover up all exorcism cases because, for some unexplained reason, the church doesn't want the world to know about demonic possession. They haven't done a bang up job so far, considering the slew of demonic possession thrillers Hollywood churns out, but never mind. Because David and Ben really believe in helping those possessed by ol' Scratch, they perform exorcisms on those people without the church's knowledge. In other words, they're rogue exorcists! Gimme a break.
Isabella meets up with her mother at the mental hospital, and, again, nobody seems to have any problem whatsoever with Michael waltzing on in with his movie camera recording everything. Their reunion is not a very pleasant one. Maria shows Isabella all the cuts she's acquired over the years on her arm and the bottom of her lip, denies that she even has a daughter, and scolds Isabella for an abortion she had some time ago before she flips out and has a demonic panic attack. Isabella is clearly upset by the experience, but that doesn't stop Michael the filmmaker from exclaiming, “Whoa, that was some great s***!”
Isabella eventually convinces David and Ben to try and perform an exorcism on her mother. Because Maria is under the church's care, they have to move her to a hospital outside of their jurisdiction. What follows is without a doubt the worst attempted exorcism scene since we saw a TV preacher perform an exorcism on a cellphone in 2008's One Missed Call. Maria begins growling, knocking people across the room, and, at one particular moment, begins singing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” in what has got to be the most unintentionally hilarious moment in the entire film (yes, I do understand why she was singing it; it's just really hard to be scared when that song is being sung).
The Devil Inside is as dreary as it is stupid. There is not a moment of intended humor anywhere in the film. The characters are lifeless and the performances are wooden. The movie turns crazy exploitative in the end, when we learn that David has been possessed and attempts to drown an new born baby during its baptism (Isabella's reasoning of the attempted murder: “He's been under a lot of stress.” Oh, is that all?) The movie opens with a title card noting that “The Vatican did not endorse this film, nor aid in its completion.” Well, no kidding. Over half the dialogue has characters speaking ill of the Catholic Church (“The church is not in the business of helping people.”), and much of the plot involves a conspiracy initiated by the church itself. Even if that wasn't the case, I'm sure the Vatican doesn't have the time nor the patience to waste on brainless, cheaply made horror films like this.
And the ending? Oh, sweet heaven that ending. Who in their right mind thought it was the appropriate way to conclude the film? Can it even be called a conclusion? The movie just cuts to black without resolving anything. Earlier this year, I complained that the ending to The Silent House was anti-climactic and told us nothing. I would've been a lot nicer to the film had I seen this one before hand. The Devil Inside is further proof, if any were needed, that any horror movie released in January are sure to be cinematic duds. How this abysmal atrocity raked in over $100 million dollars at the box office is anyone's guess.
Final Grade: no stars (out of ****)