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Devil Inside, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Just Keep Walking"
1 stars

Having been raised as Lutheran and currently lapsed from even that relatively benign faith (a feat that isn't so easy when you consider that being a Lutheran is technically a heresy in the first place), I must confess that films dealing with demonic possession and the rites of exorcism have never really done much for me from a terror perspective. Oh sure, I have been told many times that the fires of Hell are awaiting me--mostly prom-related reasons but there was that time when I accidentally blew the ending of "The Bad News Bears Go to Japan" to someone who had yet to see it--but to be perfectly honest, I found myself consumed with more raw terror last week when it appeared that the local fancy-pants grocery was sold out of their stock of oysters Rockefeller than I ever been in regards to Satan, Beelzebub, Old Scratch, Celine Dion or any of their respective minions. As a result, even an avowed classic like "The Exorcist" has never particularly impressed me as anything other than an overly mechanical spook show about as scary and profound as your local elementary school haunted house, albeit with slightly escalated levels of vulgarity and crucifix-related trauma. That said, I do find the unfairly lambasted "Exorcist II: The Heretic" to be a trippy masterpiece of some kind and also liked the equally strange "Exorcist III" and the genuinely thoughtful "Dominion," perhaps the only exorcism-related film to seriously deal with questions of faith and spirituality instead of using them as gateways to gallons of flying puke.

Ah, but I ramble. My point, such as it is, is that I am trying to admit upfront that when I settled down in my seat to witness "The Devil Inside," the newest model of exorcism-related entertainment (I guess that the promise inherent in the title of "The Last Exorcism" turned out to be nothing more than a dirty lie), it was not necessarily in the frame of mind of someone preparing to be shocked, stunned and have my spiritual faith challenged for the next 90 minutes. (Frankly, whatever uneasiness I was experiencing seemed to be coming courtesy of the possibly dodgy truffle oil-and-goat cheese burger I had consumed beforehand.) That said, even by the admittedly low bar that I was setting for it in advance, "The Devil Inside" whiffs it so completely that even I was kind of shocked by its sheer crumminess, its lack of anything vaguely resembling actual terror and its near-total disregard for providing audiences with even the minimum of what they might rightly expect from a film of its type. In fact, while I don't think I can definitively name it the worst exorcism-related movie ever made, it is certainly bad enough to be a part of any such conversation--even the infamously crappy "Abby" (the honest-to-goodness blaxsploitation version of "The Exorcist") seems marginally competent in the memory in comparison to this one. You name them--"The Rite," "The Unholy," "Little Nicky"--this one beats them all for sheer unadulterated uselessness.

After an opening title card breathlessly assuring moviegoers that the Vatican in now way condones or endorses what we are about to see (so they hem and haw about the whole child molesting thing for decades but this they get right on top), "The Devil Inside" opens with its one legitimately frightening moment--the reveal that this is yet another one of those goddamned fake documentaries in the vein of "The Blair Witch Project" or "Paranormal Activity" purporting to consist entirely of found footage of terrifying and inexplicable events that no one has ever heard of that someone just happened to put together artfully and sell to a major distributor without any sort of legal skirmishes involving survivors or what is left of them. This one starts with news reports of of a woman named Maria Rossi who, back in 1989, killed two priests and a nun in her home, was declared not guilty by reason of insanity and was then mysteriously bundled off to a psychiatric hospital in Vatican City for treatment. Twenty years later, her now-grown daughter Isabella (Fernanda Andrade) learns that her mother's doomed guests were allegedly there to perform an exorcism that went hideously awry and she decides to set off halfway across the world to see her mother and discover the truth, bringing along documentary filmmaker Michael (Ionut Grama) to film everything because really, wouldn't you do so under similar circumstances? I thought so.

Anyway, she arrives and is stunned to discover that the Vatican has pretty much disavowed the whole concept of demonic possession and writes off virtually all the cases that they encounter as being nothing more than garden variety mental instability. Not so, according to Ben (Simon Quartermass) and David (Evan Helmuth), a pair of renegade exorcism students who have apparently going behind the church's back to perform unlicensed versions of the ancient rituals, presumably for extra credit. After allowing Isabella and Michael to witness one such exorcism, they go to visit Mom to see what they can do for them and, not surprisingly, thing don't go very well either as the old lady pummels them all with feats of incredible strength and wild overacting of the unaccredited community college manner before than manage to subdue her. While looking at the footage that they captured, they discover that Mom seems to have been speaking with at least four different voices simultaneously--proof positive that, to misquote an infinitely better film, it may be getting a little crowded inside of her. Inevitably, the church scoffs at what they have captured and refuse to reconsider her case. Just as inevitably, the four begin to start acting a little bit strange--let us just say that a christening scheduled for the next day does not exactly go off entirely as planned--and it becomes apparent that whatever once possessed Isabella's mom is now going after them in a flurry of blurry footage, awkward edits and events so inexplicable that not even demonic possession would seem to be able to adequately explain them all.

"The Devil Inside" was directed and co-written by William Brent Bell, whose previous credit was the incredibly inane haunted video game thriller "Stay Alive" and if anything, he seems to have regressed in both areas if such a thing is actually possible. For a movie like this to have even a remote chance of working to any degree, it needs to be produced in the most realistic and plausible manner possible in order to lure viewers into buying what it has to offer. Unfortunately, the film starts off on exactly the wrong foot with the aforementioned title card and somehow grows stupider and more implausible as it goes on. A good deal of the problems with the film can be traced back to the asinine faux-documentary conceit that it labors under to no apparent advantage and which isn't even a novelty to this particular subgenre, as those who caught "The Last Exorcism" can attest. One of the central flaws with utilizing such an approach in the service of a horror-related film is that one has to keep inventing reasons why the participants would continue to keep their cameras grinding away when logic, not to mention the more vocal members of the audience, is screaming for them to put them down and run away instead. Here, Bell is so devoid of inspiration that at one point when all the power in a house has gone out and strange noises are coming from the upstairs room where a possibly possessed character has retreated, another character actually runs up the stairs while yelling "Bring the camera--we need the light!" Beyond that, all that "The Devil Inside" has to offer viewers is a gaggle of universally dismal performances, more bad laughs than good scares and absolutely no noticeable tension to speak of before arriving at one of the worst and most utterly unsatisfying endings ever foisted upon the moviegoing public in cinema history. Actually, that is not completely true--the film actually contains <i>two</i> of the worst and most utterly unsatisfying endings ever foisted upon the moviegoing public. Put it this way--if the projector had simply shut down ten minutes before it actually ended, <i>that</i> would have made for a better and more cohesive finale than the one on display here.

"The Devil Inside" really is one of the lousiest movies that you will ever see--too dumb to work as a horror film and too boring to work as camp--but I must confess to being delighted to have been able to attend the screening where I saw it at for two reasons. First, the aforementioned back-to-back endings are so off-the-charts bad that the entire recruited screening audience--the kind who presumably inclined to like it because they ostensibly wanted to see this nonsense in the first place and who did not have to pay for the privilege--turned upon the movie in a united show of collective rage that even I found a bit startling. The second came afterwards when I was walking out of the theater and happened upon an unattended box of movie-related swag. You know how they sometimes have people at public previews handing out T-shirts, posters or ball caps emblazoned with the film's name so that the unsuspecting public can go out into the streets and act like a free walking billboard. Well, I can now saw that I am now the proud owner of a set of official "The Devil Inside" rosary beads with the title on the little cloth bag containing them and everything. At least I hope they were rosary beads--the possible alternatives are too depressing to contemplate, though not nearly so much so as the rest of the film.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=22556&reviewer=389
originally posted: 01/06/12 00:43:20
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User Comments

5/11/12 action movie fan quarentine meets the excorcist scary underappreciated film=very scary and very good 4 stars
1/18/12 Anthony Feor If people walk out of "The Devil Inside", it won't be because it's scary. 1 stars
1/16/12 The Big D A reality tv take on possession--a couple scary scenes, but nothing new or original. 3 stars
1/15/12 joe medina worst movie ever made..for real. 1 stars
1/10/12 Flipsider Boring, boring, boring, boring.... 1 stars
1/08/12 Alex Worst movie I've seen in some time & needlessly jumpy camera work was nauseating . 1 stars
1/08/12 mr.mike Wait for the DVD. 3 stars
1/07/12 Justin How many errors can one article have, Peter? 1 stars
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  06-Jan-2012 (R)
  DVD: 15-May-2012


  DVD: 15-May-2012

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