Thursday, March 29, 2012

Film Review: The Devil Inside (2012)

Directed by: William Brent Bell

Starring: Fernanda Andrada
Simon Quarterman
Suzan Crowley
Ionut Grama
Evan Helmuth

Synopsis: In Italy, a woman becomes involved in a series of unauthorized exorcisms during her mission to discover what happened to her mother, who allegedly murdered three people during her own exorcism.

My Thoughts: There were some real reservations going into this film, all 5 of us had heard less than favourable things about the film, but seeing as nothing else was out we decided to brave it for ourselves. For the most part I was pleasantly surprised. Aside from the found footage approach which resulted in some weird focusing and shots of feet or the sky (seriously, if you want to be a documentary film-maker you'd better get a little better at carrying a camera steady!) the film had a decent pace, decent special effects and a high level of acting proficency from all the cast.

Isabella has travelled to Italy with her cameraman friend (we missed the first 5 minutes so I'm not entirely sure on their previous relationship) to create a documentary about the prevalence of exorcisms today and to try and discover the truth about her mother, a woman who has been locked in an Italian mental institute after killing three people during her own supposed exorcism. As well as visiting her mother for the first time in 20 years, Isabella attends classes at "exorcism school" and meets two young priests who have something of an unhealthy interest in the subject. Asserting that she'll learn more in 5 minutes at an exorcism than she would in months of classes at the religious institute, Isabella follows these two priests (Father Ben and Father David) to the illegal exorcism of a young woman the church denied.

Much like every exorcism film since The Exorcist, this film plays with the finnicky balance between religion and science. Can they exist beside one another? Can we ever be sure the answer is one or the other? Where do we draw the line? Because of the prevalence of this dichotomy, Father David ended up one of the most interesting characters, because as a medical doctor and a priest, he embodies both sides of this divide. There were a few neat little throwbacks to The Exorcist and other films on this subject, but I was actually surprised at home this film really managed to separate itself from what has come before. It's not the first sceptics view into an exorcism, nor is the the first documentary-style film about exorcism, however I never felt like I was watching the same old crap.

The pacing really began to ramp up about 20-25 minutes before it concluded, and though heavily signposted, it was still thrilling and exciting and gross. However then came the final 2 minutes of the film. Just as it was reaching it's crescendo it ended. Just like that it was over. The theatre went from joyful squeals of horror to outrage in less than a second. I do understand what they were trying to do with the ending they chose, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel cheated. Is it bad enough of an ending to have me recommend avoiding the film? Not quite, the baptism scene alone is worth a watch, however I would suggest waiting till it comes out on video. It's so infuriating that if you're spending $20 on your movie ticket you may just lose your mind.

So overall a decent and thrilling exorcism film, one of the best of the last few years, that was spoiled by the film-makers either A/ trying to be clever, B/running out of money, C/ running out of ideas in how to conclude it or D/being assholes. You've been warned.

3 tortured mothers locked in asylums for the film

-100 for that damn piece-of-shit asshole of an ending.


  1. I was never really interested in checking this film out but I might give it a go!

  2. I'm so ambivalent about recommending this one, because on the one hand I definitely didn't hate it, but on the other, the shaky cam plus that ending will make your blood boil. So I guess, don't pass over better movies at the video store for this one, but if you're at a loss of what to watch then maybe give it a go.