Low-budget, low-concept, zero-plausibility horror movie
By Mark Jenkins
Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012
The premise of "The Devil Inside" is that supernatural evil is contagious. But, hey, we knew that. Look how the scourge of the phony-found-footage horror movie leaped from "The Blair Witch Project" to the "Paranormal Activity" series to this low-budget, low-concept, zero-plausibility flick. It's a pestilence of infectious claptrap.
The story, directed and co-written by William Brent Bell, riffs on the Roman Catholic exorcism rite you may have seen in some other movie. So, naturally, most of the action is set in the shadow of the Vatican, not far from the tourist sites debased by "Angels and Demons." ("Devil" was shot in Romania, but that sounds a bit like Rome.) The actual terror begins in Anytown, USA, where Maria Rossi (Suzan Crowley) brutally killed two priests and a nun. Seems they were trying to evict a demon.
Found not guilty by reason of insanity, Maria is sent to an asylum near the Tiber, perhaps because fresh pasta is good for schizophrenia. Twenty years later, Maria's now-grown daughter Isabella (Fernanda Andrade) travels to Rome to visit her mom. Naturally, she's making a documentary about the trip, so she drags along a video guy, Michael (Ionut Grama). He doesn't have a big role in the story, but he's a heck of a cameraman; he gets every blurry, hand-held shot the movie needs, even ones that are technically impossible.
Isabella soon falls in with two young priests, Ben (Simon Quarterman) and David (Evan Helmuth), who are renegade exorcists. They tend to victims of demonic possession that their church superiors refuse to acknowledge, taking an oh-so-scientific approach to medieval superstition. They let Isabella and Michael videotape a dark-basement exorcism, during which a spiritually polluted young woman screams, levitates and contorts her limbs, to the accompaniment of loud, cracking noises that would make any vertebrate wince.
Naturally, the boys want to try their techniques on Maria. One problem, though: Sometimes a freshly exorcised fiend gloms onto an innocent bystander, turning him or her into a twisted, howling bag of hate. You can see where this is going, and the filmmakers can see that you can see. So they rush to the hideous yet hilarious climax in little more than an hour and then pad the running time with the slowest-moving credits ever. Even Satan, trapped for all eternity in his sulfurous kingdom, would probably get antsy watching them crawl - except for one thing, the name of the movie's contortionist: Pixie Le Knot. Good to know that someone has a sense of humor about this diabolical foolishness.
Contains violence, grisly images and profanity.