Bland, but not awful.
That’s really the best way to explain almost everything about William Bell’s The Devil Inside, an exorcism film that’s a little too safe and way too familiar. At no point does Matthew Peterman and Bell’s script break the mold and do anything fresh, new or outside of the box; that is, until the very last second, when they decide to do absolutely nothing at all and abruptly end the movie, leaving everyone with blue balls and making it one of the worst studio horror films ever in one fell swoop!
The third act, or lack thereof, is really the only mildly fascinating thing about the faux doc, which speaks volumes about how boring and unfrightening the rest of Isabella Rossi’s (Fernanda Andrade) trip to Rome is. Grown up and looking for a better explanation of what happened with her mother before she was carted off to a mental institution near the Vatican, Isabella teams up with a cameraman and heads overseas for answers. After meeting Ben (Simon Quarterman) and David (Evan Helmuth), Catholic seminary students who act as rogue exorcists in their spare time, the group investigates some unaddressed cases and Isabella’s mom, Maria. They eventually come under attack from a dark presence, which makes way for a soul transference subplot, a la Jason Goes To Hell and The Hidden, that never goes anywhere since the film just… ends.
The absence of a proper finale takes The Devil Inside from being snooze-worthy to anger inducing. It’s hard not to imagine some marketing “genius” cutting out the end – when doing press, Peterman commented that his was different from the theatrical cut – with the logic that people love social media and being connected 24/7 with their phones, so they’ll LOVE going online to read about the ending THEY PAID TO SEE, and then discuss it. Online. The worst part is that it made over $100 million worldwide on a $1 million budget, so no one is being scolded for this abomination of a climax; in fact, a bunch of people probably got a raise, bonus and/or pat on the back.
Now THAT’S horrifying.
The Devil Inside is lazy and plays up every exorcism cliché imaginable while managing to not add anything new. There’s a movie hiding in there about renegade exorcists, which could be a blast if the characters were fleshed out more and exciting things actually happened. In other words, if it was in the hands of someone who could produce more than one good scene (and an ending!) in an eighty-two minute film.
The Devil Inside is not a pretty film to begin with, so Paramount’s 1080p transfer isn’t anything to write home about. Shot with what appears to be low-end HD equipment, the picture is surprisingly half and half. During interviews and scenes that take place in well lit areas, detail and color is stronger than expected – though, it should be mentioned again that the movie is not exactly pretty and colorful – but everything else, especially the basement exorcism scene, looks as mediocre as expected, with very little picture clarity. There are also some scenes which are supposed to be news broadcasts from the 80’s and, to their credit, they are appropriately washed out and soft looking. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless track trumps its video counterpart, with clear, crisp dialogue and good control over soft, subtle noises. There’s no discernible hissing or distortions, even when things get kind of crazy – in the context of the film, not that things actually get crazy in an enjoyable way at any time. Even if the jump scares are lame, the track takes full advantage of them.
If you hate yourself, you can watch The Devil Inside on the go via UltraViolet. Other than that, the Blu-ray is devoid of any supplemental material. There’s not even a trailer.