“The Devil Inside” possesses some scares but amounts to little
Demonic possession flicks have grown in popularity in recent years, and there’s no way to avoid comparing them to the granddaddy of the sub-genre, 1973’s “The Exorcist.” “The Devil Inside” is just the latest addition to this crowded category.
A Catholic exorcism mockumentary, the audience expects the devil to win because the exorcists are all amateurs. Isabella Rossi (Fernanda Andrade) goes to the Vatican to check in on her mother Maria, a woman whose exorcism in 1989 ended with the death of a nun and two priests. Isabella invites a film director to shoot her appeal to the Vatican for a church-ordained exorcism. The Vatican priests say no, so she finds some rogue priests to do the exorcism.
The mother/daughter drama should have played a bigger part in this film as the 87-minute runtime passes quickly and leaves us feeling utterly short-changed, not giving us enough time to finish that double bucket of popcorn. Audiences may get angry, (on Twitter and Facebook they already are) and bad word-of-mouth has bred a sharp drop-off at the box office.
There is a scene where Maria is heavily sedated, but every time the camera focuses on her face she howls and seems to come back from the bowels of hell that she is trapped in. The movie then gets into comedy mode where Maria seems to smell her daughter’s pregnancy (though that could be a cleanliness issue on Maria’s part); she also is able to sense past guilty actions from each priest that comes in contact with her.
The scariest moment of the film occurs when Isabella finds the more frightened of her two priest helpers eating alone in the dark. His haunted expression when he turns the lights back off is still looming in my imagination. Under director William Brent Bell, some of the scares have real shock value, but it labors under a plot made of missed opportunities and untended mysteries.
At the end of “The Devil Inside,” the audience is directed to a website called TheRossiFiles.com. So in the end, was this movie created as just a trailer for a website? Even if the site offers all the answers to the mysteries the film leaves unresolved, it is sad that a film has to use hidden marketing to sell itself. I feel it used its trailers to draw you into seeing a film with subpar special effects and gross scenes and no real storyline. Personally, you are much better off waiting for the DVD.