For those of you that know me, you understand that the horror genre is my baby. I hold no other genre in the entertainment industry close to the heights of horror. This comes at quite a price because as much as I adore this particular style of film making it is very rare that it is done right.
It is very disappointing when the only examples I can give for good horror movies have no representation in the last 10-15 years. When I talk about horror done right I talk about A Nightmare on Elm Street (NOT the sequels), I talk about Friday The 13th (Pre Jason Vorhees..albeit I don’t mind Jason as a concept), and of course no listing would be complete without a mention of The Exorcist. I can talk George Romero, Alfred Hitchcock, Wes Craven.. the list is endless, but it is The Exorcist that needs to be address for this review.
The Exorcist is notorious for being one of the scariest movies of all time. Of course you need to keep in mind the era in which it was released. Although the special effects may seem a bit dated by todays standards the movie still holds up at being a pretty damn good scary flick to watch, but back in 1973 religion played a much larger role in day-to-day life.
Faithful church goers would go see this movie of Lucifer possessing a child named Regan played by a young Linda Blair. This movie put the fear of god in a large number of people, literally. Linda Blair required bodyguards due to death threats against her for her portrayal of Regan.
This movie is one of the most famous horror movies of all times and, if adjusted for inflation, would be the highest grossing R-rated film of all time. It’s almost 40 years later and there is still yet to be a better movie about exorcism.
Nothing has been able to recapture the allure of the original film and that is perfectly okay in my books. The problem is that people continue to try to that’s how we got stuck with this “film”
So the earlier question remains. Can “The Devil Inside” dethrone The Exorcist?
This is my review of The Devil Inside(2012)
The Devil Inside starts in 1989 with a 911 call from a woman named Maria Rossi. In a very cryptic way of speaking she admits to killing three people. This scene is followed up with police arriving at her home and documenting the crime scene. This leads to a predicable jump scare and eventually segways into various news coverage of the murders.
We then meet our protagonist Isabella Rossi, Maria’s daughter. It is only at this point that I realized that the entire movie is shot documentary style through the point of view of Isabella and her friend Michael. I am not going to instantly dismiss this movie because of this fact though, I mean Troll Hunter was an incredible film and it was done with a similar style… but it didn’t take long to realize that this film was definitely NOT Troll Hunter.
Isabella sits in on a class at “Exorcism school.” I do not recall the name they officially used but that is how she referred to it, and when they sit in class there is a lot of exposition from the priest teaching about how to determine possession. I am unsure if I am mistaken about this but I’m pretty certain that modern-day vatican do not wish for any evidence of exorcism to be made public. Exorcisms even in the 70’s were somewhat shunned by an increasing non-belief in Catholicism. So why would a teacher of exorcism class allow a girl to sit in making a documentary, and then go on to be interviewed by her?
It is at this point I realized that if I try to look at this movie from a realistic standpoint I will drive myself mad. So I decided to just take it at face value and start looking more at the story telling and character development.
Wait, character development? Oh foolish me. There is absolutely none in this film. The characters you meet are the characters you end up with… of course near the end they have seen some messed up stuff and are more panicked, but there is no growth at all.
I will give credit where credit is due, the exorcism that the two priests perform in the movie is top-notch. Good effects, the cinematography was done pretty good as well. Also, the diagnosis that the priests do on Isabella’s mother is pretty intense too.
In the final act when everything starts to go absolutely bonkers there are a couple of decent jump scares and some eerie moments but it isn’t enough to save this movie.
This movie drags through useless exposition and does not offer any sort of realistic and believable story. Whether you believe in the devil or not, when you see Linda Blair and you hear everyone describing the procedure in The Exorcist, you get a much better feel that this is the actual church, and an actual priest trying to expunge a demon… in Devil Inside it just seems like some college kids over budget attempt at a scary movie.
****SPOILERS, if you don’t want to have a scene in the last part of the movie spoiled skip this following paragraph******
There is a scene at the end of the movie where Father David (one of the priests) is really upset about the events that happened at the mental hospital with Isabella’s mother and then in the middle of speaking he states that he has a baptism to go to. Then we hear Michael (the cameraman for most of the movie) say that he was supposed to go with him too… This comes right out of left field and bares no significance to the story. The only reason Michael was going to film that baptism is to give the film maker an excuse to show David going completely inside.. which is essentially when everything starts to get intense.
But on a documentary about exorcism, why would he need footage of a baptism of the priest. I mean it can be argued that it would be used as B Roll, to establish David as a priest when the went to do their final cut of their documentary, but that’s a tough pill to swallow, especially when you consider what just finished happening at the hospital, AND this has not been done with any other priest up to this point. I know its validity can be justified, but not without a stretch and it is just a needless scene.
So, does Devil Inside dethrone The Exorcist as best in genre??
Devil Inside can barely polish the boots of the Exorcist. It’s one of the few times I went to a movie in the theatre and could not find some redeeming quality to make me feel like the price of admission was worth it. I mean I did see this with a pretty great girl.. but other than that it was not worth the money.
If you want to see a decent modern-day exorcist movie, go check out “The Exorcism of Emily Rose“, The Devil Inside is an hour and half that will feel like 4 hours and will be time you can never get back.
The Devil Inside 3/10 – Pass on this movie if you have the option to. Even if you can see if for free, you will overpay!