The wave of paranormal mockumentaries continues with “The Devil Inside,” released on Jan. 6 of this year. And “Devil” isn’t all that bad.
Unfortunately, it isn’t all that good either.
A somewhat unoriginal film, “Devil” follows Isabella Rossi (Fernanda Andrade) a young woman searching for answers about her mother Maria (Suzan Crowley,) who committed three murders while undergoing an unauthorized exorcism.
While using such a cliché plot might be forgivable if “Devil” put a new spin on it, the writers chose instead to simply borrow ideas and techniques wholesale.
The story begins with Maria Rossi’s spectacular act of homicide. It then skips forward by over a decade, and we find Maria has been transferred to a Vatican sanitorium in Rome, with no explanation.
If that had ever become a plot point, a lot of holes could have been forgiven.
But instead, the unexplained jump is just one of many holes created by sloppy writing as a way to advance the plot without actually writing any plot.
As with the “Blair Witch Project,” or the “Paranormal Activity” trilogy, the film used relative unknowns, striving to make the characters seem like normal individuals in unusual circumstances.
But unlike the cast of “Paranormal Activity,” the cast of “Devil” acts anything but normal, swinging wildly from mood to mood, and portraying their characters so one-dimensionally that the three main characters come off as laughable cutouts of people.
Andrade gives every move and mood of her character a thick patina of angst.
Simon Quaterman’s portrayal of Father Ben Rawlings can be described in two words: righteous rebel.
And Evan Helmuth plays Father David Keane in one of the most spectacularly unbelievable reversals in movie history. For the first half of the film, Fr. Keane is a cautious, forward thinking exorcist with medical training. For the last half, he’s a simpering child that fears the retribution of his superiors. No stops, no transitions, minimal explanation.
Worst bit? The Fr. Keane character was the voice of reason, literally. The writers seem to have given him a nervous break for no reason other than to avoid having him save the day by calling the others attention to events.
While the effects were on par with the best of this genre released in the last few years, they just can’t save “Devil” from the mediocrity of the writers and actors. Bottom line? Unless you like high-class B-horror flicks, give this one a pass.
To contact Jeremy Cloud, email firstname.lastname@example.org.