I enjoy a good horror movie. In fact, I even enjoy a bad horror movie from time to time if it lies in the “so bad it’s good” category. But there’s literally nothing worse than a terribly bad horror movie – which is exactly what ‘The Devil Inside’ is.
In 1989, a woman kills three church officials during an unsanctioned exorcism being performed on her. Although she confesses to the murders, she’s found not guilty due to insanity. Instead of serving time in prison, she gets committed to a state mental institution, but for some undisclosed reason, she’s transferred to loony bin in Rome, Italy on the Catholic church’s dime.
Twenty years later, her daughter Isabella is looking for answers, so she hires a documentary filmmaker to shoot her trip to Rome. The purpose: To the visit the Catholic church’s “exorcism school,” say hi to dear old mommy, and see how much fact she can dig up on demonic possessions and exorcisms.
The entire movie consists of “real” footage, shot with a constantly racking shoulder camera. It opens with some generic blurb on the screen about how “This case is real and unresolved,” which hints from the get-go that there won’t be any closure at the ending because the footage is going to simply stop at some point.
Immediately after getting to Rome and seeing her wacky mother, Isabella meets some priests who like to break the rules. These guys are the rogue exorcists who perform unsanctioned exorcisms – like the one that resulted in her mother killing three people. Naturally, Isabella employs them to work their magic on her mom.
Everything that happens in ‘The Devil Inside’ is dumb, dumb, dumb. It’s so bad that you’ll laugh out loud at it, not with it. The actors are bad and the dialog is even worse. But the saddest part is that it’s never – not once – engaging, intense, thrilling or scary. There are two jump sequences in the whole film. You see the first one coming from a mile away, so it’s ineffective. The second, while it makes absolutely everyone in the theater jump, comes from a dog suddenly appearing in the frame and barking – which has nothing to do with demons, possessions or even the story. It’s just there, needlessly popping up in the middle of an average scene.
But the ending of the movie is worst of all. When an audience of average Joes starts booing the second the movie cuts to black, you know it’s a real turd – and that’s exactly what happened during the press/promo screening I attended. The movie ends without giving you a thing – no reason for what you just saw, no closure for the characters (but it’s not like you care for them at all to begin with), no purpose for the movie, nothing. It simply stops.
The great thing about these first-person “found footage” movies is that they require no writing skills at all, just a few bad actors who are good at rambling. I’m talking about you, ‘Paranormal Activity’. These movies can be achieved without scripts. Take a genre, peg an idea within it, let the actors screw around for a while and turn the camera off… The End. It’s the cheapest formula, but for some odd reason people keep falling for it, and it makes millions and millions of dollars. Please, for the sake of all that’s good in Hollywood, do not see ‘The Devil Inside’. If so, you’ll just end up booing and feeling pissed off that you wasted your time and money.