Studio: Paramount Pictures
Director: William Brent Bell
Writer: William Brent Bell, Matthew Peterman
Producer: Matthew Peterson, Morris Paulson
Stars: Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quarterman, Evan Helmuth, Suzan Crowley, Ionut Grama, John Prosky
The daughter of a woman whose exorcism resulted in the deaths of two priests and a nun travels to Italy in hopes of uncovering the truth about demonic possession.
“The Devil Inside” sold over $34 million worth of tickets during its first weekend in the United States. Regrettably, I was a contributor. With my Catholic upbringing, passion for “The Exorcist,” and fascination with “found footage,” the stars seemed aligned when I came in under the buzzer to purchase the last two available seats at Universal CityWalk for the late show on opening day. It was a varied mix of ages and ethnicities in the audience, many of whom reacted at the jump scares, and some of whom giggled at curious moments. But there was one reaction that united everyone unanimously. When the movie ended and the lights came up, nearly every head in the theater turned to the person they were with… and laughed. It was not amused laughter. It was the kind of guttural chortle that comes with the realization that you have just been had. Somewhere, Nelson from “The Simpsons” was pointing while bellowing his signature catchphrase, “ha-ha!”
Every review I have read of the film rightly criticizes the same thing: the ending. In actuality, it is difficult to criticize the ending. Simply because there isn’t one. The movie quite abruptly just stops with the display of a URL where apparently we can find out more information (www.therossifiles.com), and leaves the audience to wonder why they were cheated out of a complete movie. That is an unpardonable sin that even the Pope would not forgive.
It is too bad really, that this prominent offense dooms the film no matter what transpired up until that point. That missing reel leaves such a sour taste that I cannot objectively say whether I was leaning towards a recommendation beforehand or not.
The characters are interesting enough, and the Italian setting offers a backdrop not often found in similar movies. Then again, it is easy to be taken out of the fantasy when the film wanders into familiar trappings of “found footage,” namely the documentary cameraman who cannot hold the camera steady and feels the need to zoom suddenly in the middle of a staged interview.
While light on any real meat about the nature of demonic possession or the rites of an exorcism, “The Devil Inside” is peppered with jump scares, particularly those with sudden spikes in the audio. If things that jump out and go “boo!” eject you from your seat, there may be some fun to be had with the lights down low and the volume up. But if you really want a “found footage” horror thriller about demonic possession, you might find better value in “The Last Exorcism.” Although that movie has a somewhat ambiguous ending, at least it has one.
By the way, I visited the website advertised in the credits and I can tell you that the missing ending is not there either. There are a number of videos though, presumably outtakes, with thrilling titles such as, “Isabella Rossi driving around Rome” and “Father David Keane talks about the church.” If you expect to find anything that shows or explains events after the film stops however, you are out of luck.
Review Score: 40