The Devil Inside (Film Review)

The identity crisis stems beyond the demonic possession of these characters – it affects the execution of the film itself. The Devil Inside should win an award for Most Deceptive Movie Trailer of 2011 – the equivalent of a comedy trailer giving away the funniest jokes. The Exorcism of Emily Rose had more character development and depth than this jerry-rig.

The trailer sets up the expectation that The Devil Inside will be a traditional exorcist movie, with a twist – science. However, it gives no inclination that it is a Blair Witch style film, attempting to cash in on similar cinematography and simple plotlines of Paranormal Activity. The result is an exorcist movie filmed like a documentary, with standard conventions that make would-be scares fall flat with epic failure. The “science” becomes a mere prop, an attempt to turn a tired concept into something a little less lackluster. The marketing strategy aims to make its audience believe The Devil Inside is based on a true story – it’s actually poorly fabricated.

Beginning with a demonic-sounding voice, the film starts with a classic approach of mystery to draw the audience in. How can one resist becoming intrigued by an evil entity that just brutally murdered three people? No one can – they want to see the carnage that the ‘thing’ created. Immediately after the confession, the scene changes to Maris Rossi’s (Crowely), home and exposes the murders of two nuns and a priest, committed by Maria herself. Unfortunately, The Devil Inside peaks here.

One ingredient to a good film of any genre is the ability for the audience to connect or sympathize with the main character. Isabella Rossi (Andrade) is likeable until she begins her quest to bring her mother back to the United States. At one point, she complains during a “camera-confession” that her documentary is supposed to be about her and her mother, not the two Priests helping her. Isabella looses any and all sympathy here. Granted, this can be argued that it is a result of her slowly becoming possessed and not a snapshot of her true personality, but the end result is still the same. Isabella’s eventual possession by her mother’s demons is not only predictable, but it produces a healthy amount of vindictive happiness – karma is a bitch. They all die. Problem solved. It would have been much more interesting if Maria acted “normal” enough for her to go home to the states, and then have several possessed freak-outs. It would have given a greater opportunity for the audience to learn about Maria and delve deeper into her gradual psychological decline into possession. Isabella has as much character development as Stephenie Meyer has talent.

In addition, a little editing on their website could go a long way, especially for glaringly obvious grammatical mistakes when the total word count is taken into account.

Father Ben Rawlings studied theology at St. John’s Seminary in Central London. […] It was during this time he learned the difference between God and the Devil firsthand. He was became an exorcist at twenty-seven. After the death of uncle and subsequent investigation surrounding it, Rawling’s relationship with the Church became strained.

Maybe I’m too OCD, but this next bit spews pretentious doucebag. He could have just been a close friend and it would have had the same effect on the character. The below information is never talked about in the film. Michael’s character is just “there”, so there is no reason to care about him, regardless of his “accomplishments”.

Michael Shaefer is an awardwinning documentary filmmaker from New York City. (How ostentatious.) […] Michael’s mother was bipolar so he relates to how hard it is to grow up in that environment. (Really? You equate possession with bi-polar disorder? /facepalm) That connection with Isabella’s story and the secrecy revolving around Maria Rossi’s case inspired him to do this film.

The film does excel at mixing the bone-grinding sounds of contortion scenes. IE: the young woman in the first exorcism twisted tighter than a Twizzler. The heavy low grinding and popping sounds of joints folding back into their natural position is reminiscent of a lion grinding its teeth on a bone after a hearty meal. The gross out factor varies, depending on your ear sensitivity, but it is just enough to have a few shivers of sympathy pains.

The best part about the film was watching it at the drive-in. I could yell at the screen in the safety of my car, windows rolled up, without people throwing popcorn and half-eaten candy at the back of my head.

I’m sure William Friedkin is vomiting green right now.

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