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The Devil Inside

A movie directed by William Brent Bell

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Quite More Like "The Empty Inside".....

  • Jan 8, 2012
The power of suggestion is a pretty strong marketing ploy. Recent movies such as “The Fourth Kind”, “Apollo 18” and the “Paranormal Activity” franchise have all but made their movies’ premise revolve around the eerie feeling of dread and suggested reality ever since the success of the “Blair Witch Project”. “The Devil Inside” is another such film that uses the suggestion that it had been inspired by true events (I am not at liberty to know if Maria Rossi really did exist), and even suggests its opening is truly the 911 tapes when Rossi made a call after her exorcism and that it was the actual walkthrough after the tragic incident. The film tries its best to get the viewer into a feeling of witnessing ‘actual footage’ and does succeed. The issue is, sometimes, having a feeling of ‘reality’ does not exactly mean a great movie. It is always a bad sign when critics are not allowed to view a film in advance.

On Oct. 30, 1989, Maria Rossi (Susan Crowley) makes a call to the emergency 911 hotline stating that she had killed three people during an unauthorized exorcism performed on her. The Vatican had gotten involved after the incident and she ends up in a Catholic mental ward in Rome. Now, 20 years later, her daughter Isabella (Fernanda Andrade) begins to wonder if Maria’s history was somehow genetic and fears that she would one day be possessed herself one day. She takes a film crew to try and find someone to help Maria, and this leads Isabella to priests Ben and David (Simon Quarterman and Evan Helmuth respectively). But her possession proves to be quite unlike anything in the history of Christianity.

                      A scene from "The Devil Inside."

                     Suzan Crowley as Maria and Fernanda Andrade as Isabella Rossi in ``The Devil Inside.''

Horror movies seem to be trying to go back to the style of “not showing too much” with the successes of the “Paranormal Activity” franchise, which is a good thing as long as the story does need to show too much. They also seem to claim to have been inspired by ‘true events’, and in the case of “The Devil Inside” appears to be rather vague, since any story about the occult could’ve just as easily inspired the film. A lot of the film’s plot details are rather sketchy as director/writer William Brent-Bell keeps to the documentary style screenplay, and as such the film relies on the viewer’s ability to suspend any questions as to how things are in the film.

The film starts off quite strong in the first half. I mean, it did seem to be your usual mystery trying to get to the bottom of a mystery. The direction tries to generate a feeling of unease with the way it is shot; shaky camera movements aided by plot revelations to seem to suggest a climactic ending, and small scenes that seek to terrify.  I liked the scenes where the applicable pseudo-science of exorcism is given some light to viewer. It started out well, as the priests discuss the how's and why's of exorcism. Why does the Vatican never authorize an exorcism these days? How can one be sure of a possession? It was nice to see some credible developments in the film's plot. Documentaries do also appear to stay within the important stuff, and the film does eerily feel like a doco. The film had the right atmosphere and style, and I have to say, it also does have several scary scenes of exorcism; it wasn’t so much as they were new, but rather the way they were executed were pretty spot on in following the needs of such of film. Editing tricks, quick cuts, lighting, sounds and camera angling were very good in shooting the scenes of possession. I could really buy into it being a doco, with some decent acting (whatever there was) and these were the film’s positives.

                  Simon Quarterman as Fr. Ben Rawlings and Evan Helmuth as Fr. David Keane in ``The Devil Inside.''

                 Bonnie Morgan as Rosa in ``The Devil Inside.''

                 A scene from "The Devil Inside."

Ok, I do understand, doco-style films always never build enough characterization for the viewer to form an attachment, but what bothered me is that while a doco is always like a ‘by the numbers’ style, the script itself never gives further depth and detail to its story. I mean, I am all for the feeling of the unknown and the supernatural, but the screenplay just appears to stop just when the film begins to get interesting. We get one revelation and a creepy scene after (possession transference was intriguing), but it never seemed to gain a footing and some groundwork around the story. It feels more like a trailer than an actual film, and it loses the momentum quickly after the attempted exorcism of Maria Rossi. What the film becomes is one convoluted and incoherent mess, that even with the film’s frightening images, it all seems for naught since the viewer would then either laugh or be frustrated with the film (I became the latter).

Round it up to an interesting climax that then plays it cheap by asking to visit a website for further details, “The Devil Inside” is a wasted opportunity. I understand that the filmmakers were trying to emulate realism and to make a statement about not adding well-rounded ‘fiction’, but sometimes, being merely “inspired” by real events does not make for a good script without some fiction. The final scene was very frustrating, and once again, just when it was starting to become interesting, it becomes cheap by stooping to gimmicks and too much ‘suggestion’. “The Devil Inside” feels more like “empty inside”; it is a trailer disguised as a film.

Rent it. [2 ½ Out of 5 Stars]
Poster art for "The Devil Inside." A scene from "The Devil Inside."

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January 13, 2012
Oh crap Will - I was hoping it would be better; hope you weren't wanting to eye gouge me while watching it LOL -- I guess I'll be saving this for a rental cuz I still eventually want to see it anyway; even if only the beginning was good. Thank you and as always, a great write up!!!! I owe you one....
January 10, 2012
Both The Exorcism of Emily Rose and The Fourth Kind were horrid pictures; to imagine the hackneyed, overwrought elements of the former subjected to the clumsy faux-documentary narrative of the latter suggests a certain form of torture.

Having written the successful novel Legion and adapting it to a third Exorcist feature (ruined only by the frequent, moronic intervention of Morgan Creek execs), William Peter Blatty decided to finally abandon the subject of demonic possession in fiction. Although Paul Schrader wrung a decent feature out of his Exorcist prequel by way of supreme understatement, everyone else really ought to do likewise.
January 09, 2012
Great write-up! I guess I'll wait for this one to come to HBO. When you were mentioning that showing less is the trend, I was thinking about Psycho and Rosemary's Baby which really left a lot more to the viewer's imagination.
January 09, 2012
Aw mannnnn.....I was looking forward to checking this one out. F and I were gonna catch it when we got back to the States. But, I usually agree with you, so I guess I'll rent it instead and save some mula! Thanks Woo, great review (ha! I'm a poet)....
January 09, 2012
Do you have to go to a website for the rest of the movie and what is it if you do?
January 09, 2012
Yeah, being a horror nut, you knew I was going to see this. Chris Pandolfi liked it more than I did, and we do agree that it did have some good moments. I became more frustrated the more I got into the second half. It wasn't that I disliked the film, but I felt that it played it cheap and tried to much to seem like a doco. They asked to check out this site for further details: http://www.therossifiles.com/site/
January 09, 2012
Aw man already saw that site lol...yeah, I trust your opinion on this!
January 08, 2012
This was one of those where all of the remotely scary parts were put in the trailer in out of context order to make it look alot scarier than it is. The documentery style camera angles and stuff remind me of the blair witch project, except not as well done.
January 09, 2012
I agree. I liked the first half until the attempted exorcism of Maria and then I dunno, I feel that it lost its footing in its story somehow. Did you check out the site?
January 10, 2012
I didnt yet...but i will
January 10, 2012
Do you have a link for it?
January 08, 2012
I guess I will wait for the rental, great review WP.
January 09, 2012
Thanks, man.
More The Devil Inside reviews
review by . June 14, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
*1/2 out of ****    On October 30, 1989; it is said that an elderly woman made a 9/11 phone call in which she revealed to have killed three people. Through an excruciatingly dull walk-through of the crime scene, we learn that the victims were found mutilated almost beyond recognition with religious items such as a crucifix at their side. The deceased were conducting an exorcism on the perpetrator of the crimes when she killed them. The woman, Marie Rossi, is moved to a psychiatric …
review by . January 07, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
So my sister finally convinced me to leave my house and *gasp* pay $10 to see a movie, the adventure she picked out for us was The Devil Inside, now im going to try not to spoil this for everyone who has yet to see it,but it may happen so i apoligize in advance. I would like to start out saying i love a good horror film, but they are so few and far between these days that im often disappointed, and today was no different, not only was i not in the least bit scared but i was laughing at some points …
review by . January 07, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         The Devil Inside is the first demonic possession film I know of to entertain the idea of back-alley exorcisms – that is, those performed by ordained exorcists outside official religious jurisdiction. They’re portrayed as progressives eager to bypass the hypocritical and bureaucratic sanctioning of the church, which, according to them, has been alarmingly selective when it comes to who can and cannot receive the services of an exorcist. …
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William ()
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Please "Like" Film and Movies and Keep the Economy strong....LOL!!      My Interests: Movies, Anime, History, Martial Arts, Comics, Entertainment,Cooking, Things I don't … more
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