There are bad films, there are terrible films, and then there are intolerable, objectionably horrible films. The Devil Inside belongs to the latter category. Coming almost 40 years after The Exorcist set the trend, this cheap ‘found footage’ style demon possession rehash is not only hideously ugly to look at but also one of the worst horror movies ever made.
The Devil Inside mimics the plot fundamentals of exorcism thrillers, but lacks any traces of intelligence found in William Friedkin’s 1973 original or the unintentional hilarity of the recent The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Instead it is annoying, irritating, obnoxiously boring and unfunny. As if begging us to ridicule it, the film opens with the ominous text ‘The Vatican does not endorse this film or its completion’. If insulting the audience’s intelligence is the latest trend in Hollywood then The Devil Inside is on the cutting edge.
The film exercises the ‘found footage’ genre by claiming to be a police investigation tape. In the 80’s a mentally disturbed woman kills two priests who try to perform an exorcism on her. She is arrested and sent to an insane asylum in Rome. Twenty years later her daughter Isabella (Fernanda Andrade) makes up her mind to investigate the incident along with a filmmaker friend with an ever ready handycam. Isabella goes to the Vatican and meets a couple of ‘freelance exorcists’ who agree to look into her mother’s case. As expected, hell breaks loose and they find out that the woman is possessed by multiple demons which can jump from one body to another. Like bastard children of Poltergeists and The Thing.
Apart from offering a stupid premise, directors William Brent Bell and Joaquin Perea make the mistake of confusing jittery camerawork, third rate characters, horrible acting and hoary clichés with entertainment. If the lack of continuity doesn’t make you roll your eyes, then the cheap throwaway scares certainly will. In fact Bell and Perea go so far as to unleash a sudden snarling dog which jumps at the camera from nowhere, as if it’s revolutionary filmmaking. There’s even a scene directly taken from The Exorcist, after which The Devil Inside just plods ahead with such shameless inanity that you simply are forced to give your brain a rest to make it to the end. Even the death scenes are ridiculously unimaginative and the tension is so insignificant that you miss it if you blink. If all that weren’t enough, it leads to a climax that is so cloyingly poor that you forget how much you hated the rest of the movie.
None of this would’ve mattered if the movie were at least scary. Sadly the only thing that’s frightening about The Devil Inside is that it may spawn a sequel. Even by the standards of Z-grade horror, this deplorable movie deserved to go direct to DVD.
(First published in MiD Day)