The Devil Inside (2012) William Brent Bell's Stylishly Shot Horror Flick | WBRi Movie Review

The Devil Inside (English, 2012) Hollywood English Horror Movie Poster

Kolkata, India, March, 3, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio / Penning Creations) Fans of supernatural films have plenty to cheer about. Over the last couple of weeks, the release of movies like The Woman In Black and Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance have shown that Hollywood filmmakers are finally turning back to genuinely scary and entertaining films. That, of course, comes as a relief for horror fans who were, for so long, being fed solely on the diet of mediocre slasher films. Director William Brent Bell, who had made the rather ordinary Stay Alive in 2006, comes back to the helm with a brand new horror flick, The Devil Inside. Shot in documentary style with a handheld camera (Paranormal Activity-mode!), the film promised plenty of chills and thrills for the audience. So, how does the actual movie turn out to be? Bit of a bore, really, for in The Devil Inside, scares are relatively scarce!

The Devil Inside gets off to an intriguing start, with a lady named Maria Rossi (Suzan Crowley) sending a message to the emergency service, admitting that she had committed three murders. The police promptly get into action and it is discovered that Maria had killed as many as three clergy members in a fit of demonic possession, while an exorcism was being held. The killer, Maria, is found to be mentally unstable and is moved to an asylum. This unfortunate series of events turn out to be particularly tragic for Marias little daughter, Isabella Rossi (Fernanda Andrade), who also loses her father after only three days of this incident.

The movie then moves twenty years forward and we find that Isabella, now a fine young lady, shooting for a documentary film about exorcisms and possessions. During her course of work, she comes across two priests, David (Evan Helmuth) and Ben (Simon Quarterman). Isabella learns from David and Ben that the Vatican Church does not approve exorcisms, for which evidence of demonic presence is deemed necessary (which, of course, is almost impossible to provide in most cases!). The two priests, in an errand of mercy (to put apparently possessed people out of their plight!) are, hence, forced to perform exorcisms on the sly. Isabella accompanies Ben and David on one such exorcism expedition, on a young girl called Rosalita (Bonnie Morgan). The exorcism is successful (not before eerie demonic manifestations and other strange happenings though!) and Isabella is convinced that the two holy men would also be able to do an exorcism on her mother, Maria. The three of them tow along to the asylum, where Maria now lives.

Trailer: The Devil Inside (2012)

On their arrival at the asylum, Isabella goes to meet Maria, but the latter (in a changed voice and a queer accent!) plain denies that she ever had a daughter. David and Ben also find out plenty of evidences (inverted crosses and the likes!) that point to an unholy presence within Maria. It is decided that an exorcism would indeed be performed on Maria (without the Churchs knowledge, of course!). The task is rendered all the more tricky by the fact that Maria shows signs of multiple demonic possessions. The risk of the unholy spirit being passed on from the patient to one who is performing the exorcism (and those around him!) is also present. However, braving all odds, the two priests start on the exorcism procedure (with Isabella anxiously looking on). Will this exorcism be successful, helping Maria get rid of her long-standing malady? Or will it bring about grave misfortunes and unforeseen horrors for Ben, David and Isabella? We wont provide a spoiler here, for there is a twist in the tale!

The Devil Inside features pretty decent performances from most of the members of its cast. Fernanda Andrade, as Isabella, does a fine job as a young woman who is troubled by a hellish past and yet, is brave enough to get to the root of her mothers sufferings. There are no great emoting skills required (as is customary in most hardcore horror flicks!) but Andrade manages to lend a certain degree of credibility and authenticity to her character in the film. Suzan Crowley, as Maria Rossi, is good. As a lady fighting (in vain!) with demonic presence within herself, Crowley certainly looks the part (two thumbs up to makeup artists Michael Mosher and Leigh Hudgens for that!). The character, however, does not evoke quite as much fear as it should have.

The other actors also come up with relatively sincere performances in The Devil Inside. Simon Quarterman, as Ben, is entirely believable as the priest who finds things spiralling out of his hands (and strange occurrences taking place to those around him!) and is rendered helpless when faced with a demon which is more than a match to his own holy powers. Evan Helmuth, as David, is rather ordinary. The young Bonnie Morgan, in a brief role as Rosalita, is, however, a knockout. The scene where she arches her entire body backwards during an exorcism (a la The Exorcist!) is easily the most memorable sequence in the movie. Its a pity that there are not many scenes that are even half as good in the rest of the film!

The Devil Inside suffers from a relatively predictable narrative and a screenplay that borders on the side of boring. Jerky camera movements and documentary-style footages simply do not manage to hold the attentions of viewers throughout the entire movie. The first half of the film, where Isabella is shown to make enquiries about the process of exorcism is too slow, and there are absolutely no scares during this phase (now thats a complete no-no in a horror flick!). The proceedings seem to get more interesting in the brilliantly shot exorcism sequence of Rosalita, but the meandering pace of the film returns soon, drawing a yawn (or two!) from the viewers. The movie, however, manages to finish off with a flourish, with the final twenty minutes or so being decidedly captivating. The narrative picks up pace (thankfully!) and the plot twists are innovatively thought out and rather startling too. The end credits also hold out a certain surprise for the audience!

William Brent Bell shows considerable directorial finesse and style while shooting the exorcism sequences in The Devil Inside. However, the editing of the movie is slack (and thats saying something, since the movie has a running time of only about 87 minutes!) and Bell (who doubles up as the editor of the film, along with Tim Mirkovich) could have done a better job in this regard. Cinematography, by Gonzalo Amat, is steady, if not outstanding. While the camerawork does manage to capture the overall mood of the film rather effectively, this particular style of shooting has started to lose some of its novelty, thanks to several other directors making use of handheld cameras in their films.

The background score of The Devil Inside (by Brett Detar and Ben Romans) is mostly good, although the sound effects do become jarring at certain points. The special effects (most of which come in the second half of the movie!) are quite brilliant and Adrian Popescu, the special effects supervisor, deserves a round of applause for his efforts. Costumes and make-up are in keeping with the requirements of the characters.

In order to earn appreciation among viewers (and register success at the box-office), horror flicks simply have to pack in enough spooky moments that would keep the viewers on the edge of their seats right through the film. The Devil Inside, however, has way too little of such moments – a feature that is not likely to go down too well with fans of scary films. The pace of the movie is sketchy, the editing loose and the plot twists, while rather interesting, are not that frightening either. The honest performances of the actors in the film do not quite manage to mask the fact that The Devil Inside is, in totality, not quite up to the mark!

Director William Brent Bell does a fair attempt at making an engrossing supernatural film with The Devil Inside. The camerawork and the general treatment of the movie also bring a feeling of genuineness in the film. However, dreary nature of the screenplay and the mundane storyline of the movie make The Devil Inside a bit of a drag. The startling climax lifts the film somewhat, but lovers of this genre are bound to feel rather unsatisfied with this flick.

The Devil Inside boasts of stylish cinematography and sincere performances from its cast members. However, it falls way short of the mark as far as the most important criterion of judging horror films is concerned. This movie is just not scary enough!