Is a horror film the best way to kick off the New Year? Paramount seems to think so. Given that the holidays are over and the Oscars are a few months away, the early weeks of the year have become a “No-Man’s Land” for cinema. Does the release of horror films during the last week of 2011 and the first of 2012 spell a lack of confidence in the films themselves, or is there something the studios see that we’re completely missing? To find out, let’s take a look at this week’s subject, “The Devil Inside.”
Despite what the trailers might lead you to believe, “The Devil Inside” is best described as a twist on both the found footage and docu-drama genres. The story follows a young woman named Isabella Rossi, played by Fernanda Andrade, and a young documentarian played by Ionut Grama. The two begin to investigate an incident in which Isabella’s mother murdered three members of the clergy during an exorcism. As a result, she becomes involved in a series of unauthorized exorcisms performed by two priests, played by Simon Quartermain and Evan Helmuth respectively.
One of the things this film can take pride in is its attention to detail and realism, not only with the way the actors come across on screen, but also in the way many of the effects are used to simulate what happens during an exorcism. Simply put, you won’t find any out of place CGI here.
The structure of the story is also quite interesting. While most spiritual horror films are polarized in the way established religion is portrayed, this film takes a fairly realistic stance, going so far as to intertwine science with religion. If this film had any certain stance it was taking, I’d say it’s more of an anti-bureaucracy film, as it addresses the issue of what constitutes as a “lost cause.”
You’d think with all of this visible effort put into the film that it would get perfect marks. Here is where we come to a bit of a problem. While the film takes a great deal of time to properly build up suspense without resorting to the overused jump-scares, by the film’s conclusion, there is little to no payoff.
While most found footage films end on a cliff-hanger, leaving the whereabouts of the characters to the viewer’s imagination, this film doesn’t do it properly. The film’s “ending,” if you can call it that, feels as if they start a new arc of the story, but then it drops off before anything really happens. While many people will say that this is realistic, it’s also a tad infuriating, since the way it’s done in this film feels rushed and incomplete, as if the person who was writing the script literally forgot to write an ending.
Overall, while this film had good build-up and well crafted suspense, the ending will leave you unsatisfied and even downright annoyed. If you’re in the mood for something scary, this is a title to check out, just be prepared to have a bitter taste in your mouth when you leave the theater. It’s good but it could have been better, so I’m giving this film a 2.5 out of 5. A film that wins points for uniqueness, but loses them for the ensuing frustration.