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Reviewed by: Pat Torfe

Directed by: William Brent Bell

Fernanda Andrade
Suzan Crowley
Simon Quarterman
Evan Helmuth

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What's it about

In 1989, while having an exorcism performed on her, a woman killed three people. The doctors chalk it up as a mental health problem and stick her in an Italian asylum. Twenty years later, the woman's twentysomething daughter, Isabella, discovers the truth surrounding her mom's stay at the asylum and heads to Rome to get some answers, camera in hand.

Is it good movie?

It seems to me that no film about demonic possession or exorcism has come close to matching the quality and success that William Friedkin's THE EXORCIST enjoyed almost 40 years ago. Yes it's been that long. The sequels didn't do it, and who knows if the just-announced TV remake will do it. There have been attempts to try and capture that success in films like THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE or THE RITE, but nothing's been able to do it. Then there are films like THE DEVIL INSIDE which are unfairly pegged as being ripoffs of THE EXORCIST. Trust me when I say that you shouldn't give a film like THE DEVIL INSIDE so much credit.

Now before the lynching begins, I should probably say a few positives about the film. I say "a few" because that's really all the positives amounted to. Firstly, the premise of the film works for the majority of its running time (a brief 75 minutes). You know those hokey documentaries that you see on the History Channel when you feel like vegging out? The ones that usually involve Giorgio A. Tsoukalos and his hair? That's the feeling that I got from this film. To the film's credit, this almost worked. Tension-wise, the pacing of the film helps to drum up some form of tension that slowly increases as the film goes on until it's conclusion. There's even a nice subplot involving the priests in Italy going against the Vatican's wishes by performing exorcisms without consent to help those possessed individuals. Finally, despite being fed a bad script, Fernanda Andrade and Suzan Crowley stood out in their roles as Isabella and Maria Rossi. Too bad the secondary cast's acting was crap.

And here we go. First off, the film's interesting setup was promptly pissed away 2/3rds into the film. Really, what the hell happened? The writers must have started snorting their Wite-Out, since the entire story turned into one cliché after another, throwing the finger to logic and cohesion in the process. That underlying tension is ultimately wasted and never really gets high enough to hold your interest. As for the characters in the film, many of them are given next to nothing in terms of depth. They're given only enough background to move the story along, and that's it. If the writers don't care about the film, why should I? In fact, I swear that I'd heard dialogue from characters in this film that was lifted from other exorcism films!

Finally, there's the ending. Or, what you're supposed to call an ending. How a film that clocks in at just over an hour and fifteen minutes resolves itself through the use of quick-cut sequences ultimately ending in a black screen with the equivalent of an even bigger middle finger to the audience is beyond me. I guess the writers really did get past the point of giving a sh*t and walked out. How else can you explain this ending? Did Paramount not want to spend more than the $1 million it cost to make this film? All I know is that the website shown at the end of the film will be gone this time next year.

According to the quote on the front of the case, THE DEVIL INSIDE is the film the Vatican doesn't want you to see. It seems that even the Pope has enough sense to tell the faithful to not bother watching this waste of time. An interesting idea that ultimately gets lost amidst the lousy writing, lame acting and downright infuriating ending, THE DEVIL INSIDE is neither scary nor entertaining, and doesn't even deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as THE EXORCIST. Save your coin and get Friedkin's classic on Blu-Ray.

Video / Audio

Video:The film is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and looks pretty good. While colours are muted at times (for artistic purposes), there are moments during interview segments that do retain bold and natural colours. Along with the colour, there's also a pretty good amount of detail. Black levels tend to fall on the murky side, but overall this is a good presentation.

Audio:The Dolby Digital 5.1 track almost works to the disadvantage of the film. How a supposedly amateur production can incorporate an immersive experience like this is kind of ridiculous. Nevertheless, here it is. The track provides creepy ambient sounds with appropriate hits in the lower end to get your jumping, as well as providing some crazy directionals to mess with your head.

The Extras

Paramount must have known the clunker they had on their hands, so they give us nothing in terms of extras. Unless you count the hilarious pullquotes on the back of the case. I wonder how much Mr. Amos was paid to call this film "an instant classic".

Last Call

What started as a potentially interesting idea quickly went downhill. THE DEVIL INSIDE fumbles its way through a mercifully short 75 minutes, trying to make sense of its inane script. A good-looking and sounding presentation are nice, but even when Paramount won't shell out the money for extras on a film that cost a million to make, you know you've got a coaster on your hands.

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