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Movie ReviewsRating: 1.5 of 5 yaps

The Devil Inside

With pretzel-knotted limbs, a disturbing flow of menstrual blood and a baptism scene of unnerving quiet and unswerving menace, “The Devil Inside” is a refreshing R-rated reversal of PG-13 puniness in many recent possession films — “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” “The Unborn,” “The Last Exorcism” or “The Rite.”

But balls only get you so far. Yes, “The Devil Inside” is rarely timid. But boy, Captain Howdy, is it almost always stupid — especially in a contemptuous conclusion certain to collect catcalls across the nation.

Arriving after just 73 minutes, it’s a finale dumber than all of the found-footage folderol since “The Blair Witch Project” and an argument for euthanizing this subset of the horror genre altogether.

The best that can be said of it is that it forgoes a demonically possessed woman lunging at the camera as a boar would a bunny — if only because that effect occurs twice during the first 10 minutes.

After a silly wink-wink warning that the Vatican didn’t endorse this film, a woman leaps from a crawlspace at cops combing the scene of a triple homicide in 1989. The subject of an aborted exorcism, Maria Rossi offed everyone in the room, then called 911 to confess.

Diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder and spared prison on an insanity plea, Maria is institutionalized … but swiftly sent to a mental hospital in Rome. (And if you’re wondering how someone institutionalized in the States could be extradited to a run-down Roman sanatorium, well, you’re putting more thought into it than co-writer/director William Brent Bell and co-writer Matthew Peterman.)

Two decades later, we meet Maria’s daughter, Isabella (Fernanda Andrade, hiding a Brazilian accent in a monotone). Isabella worries Maria’s mental condition may run in the family and wants to see Maria for herself. Chronicling her trip is documentary filmmaker Michael Schaeffer (Ionut Grama, Romanian for “B.J. Novak”).

And it’s certainly a strange and mournful day for this mother and child reunion — Maria passing judgment on an abortion she couldn’t possibly know Isabella had. As Maria, Suzan Crowley — a nicely coincidental surname — generates effective, expressive madness with a crinkled face, croaked voice and bloodcurdling screams.

So far, so good. But then Isabella and Michael meet Ben (Simon Quarterman) and David (Evan Helmuth) — a pair of priests in exorcist school (no joke) who have hung a shingle for exorcisms the Catholic Church refuses to perform.

In a relentlessly gabby second act that grabs at straws of religious relevance, Bell and Peterman’s script becomes possessed with fatal self-seriousness. It doesn’t help that Quarterman is a spastic shouter and Helmuth, though genial, seems the sort better suited to play a Prilosec patient than a priest.

Much better is a simple, suspenseful, very bloody freak-out at a basement exorcism on a girl played by actress Bonnie Morgan and contortionist double Pixie Le Knotanother nicely coincidental surname, whose wet, crunching sounds of bone displacement may have you gritting your teeth.

Now a believer, Isabella persuades Ben and David to cast out her mother’s suspected demons. It’s no surprise when that goes south. What shocks is just how much laughable dialogue, lamentable plotting and unabashed brainlessness ensues.

Why, again, would a mental hospital permit an exorcism on the premises? Why can’t priests who own cameras to track “preternatural pupil dilation” afford stronger restraints than … cloth strips? Eventually, “The Devil Inside” throws its hands up and becomes “Real World: Vatican City,” or what happens when people stop being polite and start getting possessed.

Bell knows how to stage a handful of fine freak-outs but can’t tie them together into a seriously sinister story. Unfortunately, he doesn’t do enough to elevate the heart rate in this exorcise routine.

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9 Responses to “The Devil Inside”

  1. Saw this and was disappointed. The last 20 minutes of film was ok. The ending was awful and then wanting us to go to a website? (which I must say I did anyway). Had great potential. But fell short. Not worth 10 bucks but maybe rental.

  2. Mikey says:

    @BECKY MEREDITH, uhm about the Catholic church, it was the backbone of the story. It’s fiction, get over it. And if you walked out in 20 mins, how would you know about how the church was portrayed? Oh your husband filled you in, right. Then he should have posted.

    The movie was easy to follow, character development was good. I think that the whole mockumentary is getting played out, but this one was a little different in that the camera guy interacted, I did like that. It was short, and that’s depressing. It’s like they either ran out of time and didn’t finish the script, or out of money to film the rest. Won’t buy the DVD, no matter how many "extras" they try to cram it with.

  3. rapidash says:

    I saw this movie. It was mostly just a boring mashup of of Emily Rose and The Rite, with an interesting-ish twist at the end. I saw it coming, but it was still fun to watch the carnage. The Vatican says there are 10s of thousands of exorcism requests a year and ordered every diocese to have a trained exorcist. So obviously a lot of people have or believe in demonic presence. It was cool this movie took it seriously (somewhat) and didn’t just turn it in a let’s laugh at the religious wackos movie. Having said that, it wasn’t worth paying to see in a theater.

  4. toya says:

    i would suggest everyone to save their money.

  5. toya says:

    This was a bad movie. i agree completely with the review. The movie was predictable and had nothing exciting to keep me interested throughout.

  6. Autumne says:

    Very accurate review! What a bad movie! And number one opening week?! I saw this in a screening and am SO thankful I did not pay to see this incredibly disappointing film. It was not thrilling or scary – in fact it was over before you knew it started. I have never seen film credits move so slow in a feeble attempt at achieving a respectable running time. Very poor character development as well. Just a bad experience all around.

  7. Becky Meredith says:

    ABSOLUTELY THE WORSE FILM I HAVE EVER ATTEMPTED TO WATCH!!!!!!! I never walk out on movies, but this one I did in less than 20 minutes. My husband stayed to the end and told me it was the worse movie he had ever seen. And that everyone sitting around him agreed.

    The filming itself was very poor, kinda like you were on a roller coaster the whole time. I was not raised Catholic, but they portrayed the Catholics in a very bad light. Making the Nuns look like they were satinistic, making a joke of religion.

    I have never had a movie make me physically sick but this one did and I was sick for two days. I think they are hyping this one extremely to sucker people into going to see it at the theater. It is not even worth a dvd!

  8. Chukie says:

    The movie was slow to start but had a great climax then just fell flat on its ass…The rating of 1.5 stars is accurate! I won’t call it a bad movie. But it had a dissapointing ending! The audience was robbed with the shitty ending!!!!

  9. Lindsey says:

    This movie was not what I expected it to be… Bad movie… Just saying