Last night, I made yet another pilgrimage to my local AMC Star Theater to see a pre-screening of The Devil Inside. I was excited all day and looking forward to seeing something that would genuinely scare me. I like “scary” movies, but am not a fan of the Horror genre as a whole (I don’t like blood/gore/big-breasted silly women). It takes a specific kind of movie and a certain arsenal of images to scare me and I thought this would be the one. I was wrong.
While I recognize that I am a cynic, and that it takes a lot to penetrate my steely armor of raised eyebrow stoicism, I walked into the movie open to enjoying it. As if the universe wanted to prepare me for the hour and a half of pure trash I was about to witness, it started introducing annoyances slowly into my general area. My friend and I were greeted by two attractive people at the door to the theater. One dressed as a nun and the other a priest. This type of shameless promotion in the form of bad-taste Halloween costumes irritated me immediately, priming me for the unfortunate seating availability in the theater. Once we finally located two seats together (in the third row) I realized I’d have to smush in next to a young, extremely unattractive “ghetto” white boy with long fingernails (grossest thing ever) and a penchant for eavesdropping on my comments to my friend.
I settled in, practically laying in the lap of the person behind me so that I could see the entire screen and tried to ignore the jumble of too-loud moviegoers surrounding me. Before the film started, the priest and nun solemnly stepped in front of the crowd to announce that what we were about to see was in no way endorsed by the Vatican, and that we should stay tuned after the movie for more information on the events that transpired. Oooh. Ominous. Or it would have been if the priest didn’t stumble nervously through the words he had typed out and crumpled between his shaking hands. Not a great public speaker, that one.
You probably recognize the “not endorsed by the Vatican” tagline from the movie trailer and any advertisements you may have seen. I’m not sure what they thought the effect of this disclaimer would be. Perhaps hopes of such a strong, “what they don’t want you to know” intrigue that the audience would forget what a piece of insulting garbage the movie actually is. In reality, it caused me to wonder what, beyond a strong suggestion to tithe, the Vatican does endorse.
In short, don’t go see this movie. Don’t even rent it in a few weeks when it shamefully flops to Netflix or Redbox. Just don’t. If you’ve seen The Exorcist, or even more recently The Exorcism of Emily Rose, then you don’t need to rehash the same tired scenes. Especially when you have to pay $10 to get in. The scariest part of the film was a dog that jumped into the shot and barked loudly, which was really more of a slight startle than a scare. The entire film was a series of “demon possessed” moments strung together by flat dialogue spoken by one-dimensional characters.
Presented in the “mockumentary” style that gave Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity their edge, The Devil Inside ended up leaving me nauseous rather than nervous. The combination of a shaky camera and extreme closeups (as in, you could count the pores on their faces) literally made me feel ill. The characters weren’t believable, and I honestly didn’t care what happened to them or how they got to where they were. The director certainly didn’t care since he didn’t offer any sort of back story or humanizing elements to his characters. He did, however, manage to use the movie as a social commentary on the bureaucracy of the Catholic Church in a very “wink-wink, get it?” kind of way.
By the time the VERY abrupt ending came, I was more than ready to leave the crowded theater, but I was still shocked. Not because of some great shock cut a la Paranormal Activity, but because of the blatant “phoning in” of the ending. It just ended. That’s it. No conclusion, no tying together or resolution of anything. Just pure, unadulterated cop-out. In fact, my favorite part of the evening was someone’s outburst of “Aw, HELL no!” at the onset of the credits. All in all, I’d say that if you have a very, VERY deep-rooted religious sensibility and a fear of contortionists and shouting, you may be scared by this movie. If not, well, like I said…just don’t see it. It’s terrible.