ann hale reviews one of the first new movies of the year …
A few months ago, Paramount Studios sent me free advanced passes to see Paranormal Activity 3. I, of course, brought [my fiancee] Jenny with me because A.) all of my friends are wimps when it comes to horror movies and won’t go with me and B.) she is an excellent judge of how normal people will react to the movie in question whereas I, being a horror connoisseur, will react like any nerd, overly educated in horror, would.
I don’t remember a single preview from that night with the exception of The Devil Inside and I’ll tell you why: When that preview ended, I turned to Jenny and said, “Everything cool that is going to happen in that movie was just shown in that preview.”
A few weeks ago, Paramount sent me more free screener passes to The Devil Inside. As I had no intention of paying to see this movie anyway, I decided I would go. Once again, I brought Jenny with me as my fright meter.
It starts out as a 911 call from Maria Rossi (Suzann Crowley) telling the police that she murdered three people. Then there is a cut to a police crime scene video from Maria Rossi’s house. Inside are the brutally beaten bodies of a nun and two priests, who are stereotypical in that one is an old priest and one is young. We find out that Maria Rossi was declared innocent of murder as she was found to be insane and was then sent to a hospital for the criminally insane all the way out in Rome. Set in 2009, Maria’s daughter, Isabella (Fernanda Andrade), is helping to make a documentary on her mother about how she killed the priests and nun during a botched exorcism. So, she goes to the Vatican to seek help with her mothers case.
Lets rewind a second to where I tell you that Isabella is helping to make a documentary on her mother. Yes, the entire movie is filmed as a documentary.
This is where they lost me.
The documentary horror is tricky. You can only make a documentary horror film if that specific topic hasn’t been done yet. For example, The Blair Witch Project was fantastic in that it made people believe that those three people really did disappear into those woods, possibly murdered by the Blair Witch, with only their footage to be found. Quarantine was really scary because Jennifer Carpenter plays scared so well that anyone would believe she was really trapped in with zombies. Paranormal Activity brought peoples fears home by bringing demons into the home of a young couple.
The possession documentary has been done. The Last Exorcism was made in 2010 where a film crew follows an exorcist into the home of a possessed young girl. That movie was a total flop and is easily the worst possession film I have ever seen. But that’s neither here nor there. The point here is that there is nothing original about The Devil Inside.
The speaking in tongues and foreign languages, the abnormal strength, the distortion and contortion of the body … we have all seen it a million times, the best ones being The Exorcist from 1973 and The Exorcism Of Emily Rose from 2005. In fact, I left the theater calling The Devil Inside a total rip-off of Jennifer Carpenter’s horror film career. It was like watching a studio splice together Quarantine and Emily Rose, which may sound good in theory, but, without Carpenter herself, is actually total feces.
The ending of the film is given away within the first thirty minutes when Isabella and her camera man go to Rome and visit a class on exorcisms. It took one sentence out of the teachers mouth for me to say “And that is how the film ends.” There is no element of surprise anywhere. You can actually predict every single moment in the film. The jump factor is lame at best being that, out of 87 minutes, Jenny only reached over to break my hand with her death grip once. That is literally one tenth of how many times she hurt me during Paranormal Activity 2. (Side note: I finished that movie with bruises on my ribs.)
I haven’t even gotten to the worst part. At the end of the film, they tell you that the case is still being investigated and that, if you want to learn more, you should visit www.therossifiles.com. The website is nothing but pictures and videos from the movie that they are trying to play off as real. Anyone with half a brain would IMDb the movie and see that they are all actors and that the film is a hoax. They are unsuccessfully trying to pull off what The Blair Witch accomplished almost 13 years ago, which is trying to convince people that the film, and everything that happened within, was real.
I was very disappointed in my entire experience and from what I could hear people saying as they were leaving the theater, others were too.
Save your money, wait for Netflix.