Many films claim to be shot in “documentary-style,” which usually means they make liberal use of the zoom lens and the shooter can’t hold his camera still for 3 seconds.
In this case, we have a true documentary-style film, in the sense that boredom may lead you to change to another channel halfway in.
The film presents itself as footage from a documentary by Isabella Rossi, a young woman determined to reunite with her mother, who was moved to a mental hospital in Vatican City after she killed three people during a botched exorcism.
Isabella goes to exorcism classes (yes, really) and meets up with a couple renegade priests who are determined to educate her on the finer arts of demonic banishment.
I thought the acting was more-or-less convincing. My wife did not. There are some sparse special effects and a few really creepy moments - eventually.
But first, you’re going to have to sit through about an hour of Isabella wandering around, interviewing people, and reminiscing about her mother.
You’ve seen this kind of movie before, so I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying that, by the time things DO pick up, none of it ends well.
To me, the conceit of found footage horror films are inherently problematic because it always begs the question: In this litigious and politically-correct era, what nameless, callous person assembled all this footage into a coherent, artistic whole? And then released it commercially to make money off of someone else’s misery? You’re toying with my suspension of disbelief right off the bat.
There’s not much more that can be said here. I’ll simply report that, when all is over, The Devil Inside is an hourlong buildup to a 15 minute payoff.
Is the payoff worth it? I turned to the Internets to discover if I was alone in my feeling of letdown. I wasn’t. Apparently there were riots in the theaters. More after the break.
*** SPOILERS ***
Maybe we’ve taken the Catholic Exorcism In Bed genre about as far as it will go. I was creeped out by the first exorcism. A little ho-hum by the mother’s. The possessed priest gave me chills, but as soon as I saw that Isabella herself was the new lucky winner, my own eyes rolled back into my head. Who won't have played host to Lucifer by the time this is through?
I thought the ending was truly terrible. Not only do we get a nod that it’s Satan himself leapfrogging from person to person (pleeeease), but the abrupt death of all the main characters in a car crash is weak, weak, weak. What exactly is The Devil gaining by all this madness? A little exposure via the subsequent found-footage documentary? Is he simply looking for his 15 minutes of fame?
You’d think he’d have this concept licked, but it appears the Dark Lord has trouble achieving a proper sense of closure.
To add insult to injury, the filmmakers flashed a lame “The Rossi Case remains unresolved,” to which I shouted to the screen: “Well, maybe you guys should go back and watch your movie again. Seemed pretty clear to me.”
THEN, to rub salt in our collective eyeballs, we’re directed to a website - www.therossifiles.com - which I guess we’re supposed to visit to be futher marketed to.
To what end? We watched your damn movie already. Are there t-shirts we can buy? Is there a sequel in the works? Perhaps a mechanism to refund our ticket money? I’ll never know because, much like the movie it promoted, it’s empty.