It was hard to stay on top of things with the holidays looming over the release of The Devil Inside (review). Thankfully, Evan Dickson was lucky enough to land a last-second interview with director Brent Bell, co-writer Matthew Peterman and producer Morris Paulson to speak about the found footage exorcism flick.
The below chat, which is excerpts from the conversation (the best of, if you will), tackles everything from the film’s budget to the conclusion that has more than a handful of critics and fans up in arms.
And as always, make sure to write your own review to tell all of Bloody what YOU thought! BD: You guys made this movie for about a million dollars correct?
Morris Paulson: A little bit less than that.
BD: Matt, did you approach Brent with the idea?
Matthew Peterman: I’ve been working with Brent on films for about a decade. We’ve been a team for that long and Morris is our partner now on this film and for the future. And we were working on ideas about five or six years ago when we read an article that said the Vatican had started a [school] for exorcism. This process started way back then. We wrote a traditional hollywood script and got frustrated with that process.
Brent Bell: Then Morris, who has been our friend for over a decade suggested we film this independently, more documentary style. And make the movie in Europe, just the three of us without anybody else bothering us. And I’m really glad we did it that way, I love it.
BD: The film has a lot of creepy imagery and a visceral nature to the exorcisms. Was it a conscious decision to show more than the average found-footage film?
Brent Bell: I think the difference between this movie and most found footage films is that it’s not just like the guy from Cloverfield running around with a camera. With our film we tried to create an actual documentary. And that guy is there to make a film. He’s there to get the shot, and she’s there to let him get the shot. They’re there to make a film and document what they’re seeing. It’s not as much about trying to answer why the camera is there because the camera’s there for a very good reason. Like any good documentary filmmaker, like Michael Moore, they’ll do anything they can to get the shot. That’s a little different from what you normally see in a found footage film.
BD: With Suzan Crowley playing Maria Rossi, that’s a pretty intense role. How did you cast her?
Brent Bell: We saw quite a few people but she was literally the first person. Her picture was great. And then at the first reading it was like “wow!” No one came close to her. It’s hard to find someone in her age range that can be that fearless and completely out of her mind. And she just stood out from everybody. It was a clear, immediate, choice.
Matthew Peterman: When you’re casting a film like this all you’re worried about is talent. Their level of talent and how good they are. There’s no other agenda. You’re not worried about how famous they are or what kind of cache they bring. You just try to find the best actors possible and that’s what we did with this.
BD: It made 2 million dollars in previews last night, double your initial investment. How does that feel?
Brent Bell: We’re excited about the initial success but what we really want to focus on how excited the audience gets. And that’s what we’re hoping to see in the next couple of weeks.
Matthew Peterman: You always hope for the best, we all do whenever we embark on a creative project and rarely do you get the chance for it to actually happen. It’s really great that people get to see the movie. No matter what they think, it’s great to just put it out there.
BD: For the possession you use a unique makeup effect. How did you settle upon the general look of that?
Brent Bell: Pretty much everything in the movie we tried to do real. In camera. And kind of subtle and believably. You do kind of want to subtly indicate the person is possessed but if we did it with their heads spinning around or their eyes glowing or something crazy, that really takes you into the realm of unbelievability and we wanted to be as authentic as possible.
BD: I’m reading a lot of reaction today about the card with the url at the end. When was the decision made to make it kind of a more “interactive” experience?
Brent Bell: That was something that happened towards the end with Paramount. It was interesting, it was kind of a provocative thing. When you’re doing an independent horror film that [people] aren’t just trying to get their money back real quick and make a really cool film you can take chances like that. I don’t think we ever expected that Paramount would release a film with something quite as bold as the way the movie ends. And their idea was this website, and we thought it was kind of cool to continue the story on this website, nobody’s ever done it before. Good or bad, it’s kind of unique.
Matthew Peterman: One the one hand, a lot of the internet is like “oh that’s cool!” And on the other hand, and what I think you’re referring to, is people are saying it’s kind of bullsh*t. You know what I mean? You make a bold choice and you stick with it. I know for us, we all flirted with different ending for the film and we settled for this kind of abrupt ending that we all really believed in. Because with this film, we’re trying to make it feel like real life and very realistic and life doesn’t always follow a perfect three act structure like film does. They’re very fabricated. The stories always have a very Hollywood ending. And we’re doing the antithesis of that. I know some people love it and some people f*cking hate it but it gets people talking. We’re just trying to make it realistic. Not every situation ends perfectly or the way you want it to end.