THE DEVIL INSIDE (2012) Review

Directed by: William Brent Bell
Starring: Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quarterman, Evan Helmuth

THE DEVIL INSIDE just hit theatres here in Australia on March 1st and despite all of the negative feedback I've heard about it (literally everything I've heard about it has been negative) and the fact that it only has a 5% rating on RottenTomatoes I decided to watch it anyway.

Maria Rossi apparently killed three people in 1989 while an exorcism was being performed on her. 20 years later her daughter Isabella (Andrade) is on a mission to discover just what happened to her mother. She travels to a hospital for the criminally insane in Rome where Maria has been locked away to find out whether her mother really is just mentally ill or possessed by a demon. After visiting a school of exorcism she recruits two young priests (Quarterman & Helmuth) to try and prove that Maria is possessed and also to try and help her through unauthorized exorcisms and a mix of science and religion.

The film begins with a 911 call from Maria, confessing to the murder of three people, then we are shown through the crime scene via handheld camera as the police talk about the victims. Maria is tried in court but ultimately exempted on the grounds of insanity and is shipped away for some unknown reason to a mental hospital in Rome. The film then leaps forwards 20 years to daughter Isabella announcing that she wants to travel to Italy to find out what happened to her mother, and she wants to bring along cameraman Michael to film it all. She arrives in Rome where we are treated to lots of shaky camerawork and introduced to two priests. They decide to bring Isabella along to an actual exorcism. The exorcism scenes are done very well and have a certain look of realism about them, but scary? Not at all. Maybe a little creepy with the body contortions and such but if you've ever seen any other exorcism movie then this will be no surprise. We also get to see all of the other demonic possession hallmarks that are also shown in every other exorcism film ever made such as speaking in tongues, strange voices and super strength. However, none of these are shown with an effectiveness even close to something like say THE EXORCIST.
The inclusion of science alongside religion is a rather unique one, but whenever I hear both science and religion uttered in the same breath it makes me laugh. The two just don't mix.

Technically the movie is just what you'd expect from the mockumentary / found-footage sub-genre with plenty of shaky camerawork, grainy security camera footage etc. It is also exactly what you'd expect from any movie in the exorcism sub-genre with priests, bible passages, people being thrown across the room etc.
Apart from the lame inclusion of science there is absolutely nothing new here. There was maybe one standout scene for me (I won't say which) but in general I found it to be boring, bland and unoriginal. And definitely not scary. The acting leaves a lot to be desired too, especially in the case of Fernanda Andrade.
And I guess I should mention the controversial ending too, the part everybody seems to be complaining about. I actually though it was fitting and since it is a found-footage film I also found the ending to be realistic. It leaves questions unanswered but sometimes that's a good thing.

In summary I'd say it's definitely not a movie I plan on watching again, but it's also not one that I regret watching either. I've seen a few movies which have had me wanting my money back but this is not quite that terrible. Close, but not quite.

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