We’re lead by the hand back into the murky waters of found-footage horror films, this time submerging ourselves into Paramount Insurge’s “The Devil Inside.” We’re brought into the shaky-cam world of Isabella Rossi (Fernanda Andrade), a twenty-something who’s desperate to figure out whether or not her mentally unstable mother Maria (Suzan Crowley) is actually possessed by a demon, explaining why she ended up murdering two priests and a nun twenty years ago. We then fall into a movie filled with slight mystery, semi-terror and camera auto focus that should never ever be used in a movie again from this day forward.
The type of horror movie that “The Devil Inside” is tends to contain the necessary uncomfortable hook that immediately gets you in, especially if it’s a found-footage film, by means of eerie text or some indication that the event at the start is a rather abnormal and super creepy one. It begins with the Vatican’s disapproval for the making of this movie along with the 911 call they show off in the trailer with the character Maria’s strange voice. Then we finally get our load of the main characters, along with too many extreme close-ups of Ms. Andrade’s cheek/eyes. Many of the actors range to sub-par to par with their performances, but the only one who truly stands out is Suzan Crowley. It may sound strange, but she does make a very convincing mentally disturbed/possessed lady. Unfortunately she doesn’t get that much screen time, despite what the main poster shows,so that’s a downer.
When the documentary style first kicks in it’s rather refreshing. It appears like a legit documentary, like the kind you’d eventually end up watching on said random cable channel. After we start chugging along in that format, the movie suddenly shifts to a “Paranormal Activity”-like found footage direction, filled with too much shaky cam, and at random times felt like a regular narrative, ultimately confusing you as to what tone the director wanted it to be. There were early signs on how much the tone was going to shift within the first five minutes, but for some reason there was still glimmers of hope that it could stay set in the documentary style. It’s a bit upsetting to see how indecisive William Brent Bell’s direction is throughout the movie, but what can you do.
We can’t keep talking about a horror movie at all without bringing up the scarier portions. After all, that is why we go out to see these movies. As an audience we’re used to being barraged by a load of jump scares, the same kind that’s continually fed to us by the “Paranormal Activity” franchise. “The Devil Inside” doesn’t try to rely as heavily on those cheap scare tactics but fills up those portions of time with the theory of exorcisms, or to simply put it, dialogue. While it is a charming effort on co-screenwriters William Brent Bell and Matthew Peterman’s part to insert dialogue about exorcisms and who is considered to be legitimately possessed, a vast majority of these audience members are going to see “The Devil Inside” for the pure terror of it all, not the verbal description of it. Not to fret, the movie’s horror value is salvaged towards the end where it gets rather demonic, but the way the story gets wrapped together in a neat little bow feels abrupt, like the audience was just cheated out of a more thrilling conclusion. That’s at least the impression I got when the audience at this particular screening for “The Devil Inside” greeted the end with a large array of boo’s.
Could this be the next “Paranormal Activity” franchise? All answers point to no. “The Devil Inside” is a wonderfully short but lackluster attempt at trying to mix together people’s fascinations with demon possessions along with the found-footage fad, ultimately making a rather bland film.
“The Devil Inside”