Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Devil Inside

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Dir: William Brent Bell (Stay Alive)
Cast: Fernanda Andrade, Isabella Rossi, Simon Quarterman, Evan Helmuth, Ionut Grama, Suzan Crowley
USA, 2012

Seen: January 10, 2012 at the Rainbow

Reason to see: If it's supernatural, I'll see it .

Ah, the first new film seen of the year! We started off this January with only 2 choices for new releases and I chose The Devil Inside over Players (2012) as I have strong pull to supernatural films.The Devil Inside is a supernatural drama that uses the format of creating a documentary to explore personal history including the protagonist Isabella Rossi (Fernanda Andrade) own past as well as her mother Maria’s (Suzan Crowley) who was exorcised years ago.

I know this subject matter can freak people out and it did certainly get the crowd going, so I think in terms of content it’s something people are either interested in, or not. It does have some great scares in it and interesting ideas that build a little on the genre for which January seems to be a popular time for supernatural films as in recent years we’ve had The Rite as well as The Unborn. There were several things that I liked about the film, including that it focused on a female protagonist who was delving into her own family history, I liked the exploration of the journey and the different places and locations of the film. I also liked that it veered off the path a bit in terms of beliefs, as usually exorcism films depict characters that fall quickly into one of two sides: believers and non-believers, with the occasional renewed-believer though scary encounters. The Devil Inside played it more grey and middle ground with people being more open, more risky and more horrifically adventurous than I’ve seen in the past. And it gets another point for providing some pretty good scares.

The biggest challenge of the film is the ‘making a documentary’ format, and while watching I kept wondering if we were suppose to really believe that this is actually happening, and are these real lives & encounters we are seeing? This buying into the documentary format can be done successful, as seen by the recent Norwegian film Trollhunter; but with The Devil Inside I wasn’t buying. I always felt like I was watching actors and that what I was seeing was a story told through film. So in that sense I wish they hadn’t gone with the format because the ideas were interesting but I kept playing the compare game in my head with the similar in concept 2010 film The Last Exorcism which pulls off the idea in a much stronger way. If you go into this film and are just seeing this as a first introduction to the idea, I think they will enjoy it; however if you compare the two films I think viewers will be disappointed. So, it does beg the question of whether or not it’s even fair to compare but in terms of an audience I think most people who like myself are interested in supernatural films are likely to have see both; at which point it’s fair to recognize that is fair to compare. Supernatural films tend to be a genre people either like or don’t, and even further into the genre the mere subject of exorcism isn’t something people are often likely to go outside their comfort zone.

In terms of the viewing experience, I saw it in a pretty small theatre that was quite full and the audience was very vocal yelping at the scares or even shouting out theories or ‘don’t go up there’ comments to the screen. Normally that could grate me, but in this context it was great to ease the tension and laugh or eek alongside folk.

For supernatural film fans, I think there is enough to get something from The Devil Inside, although I think that general horror fans may find it not quite enough to get them going. I did like the characters, the ideas and the scares but I think it could have gone a little deeper on some of the concepts and story lines.

The Devil Inside was released in wide release on January 6, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

See also my review of The Devil Inside on Episode 57 of the Movie Moxie Podcast:
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Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it, but wanted to like it a lot more
I'd watch it again
I'd recommend it to supernatural film fans

© Shannon Ridler, 2012

1 comment:

Suzie Ridler said...

Interesting! So there may be something about it I might like. I heard the reviews were crushing so the fact that as a supernatural enthusiast, I might get something out of this movie makes me want to see it. Thanks so much Shannon, that is helpful! As usual though, I will probably watch this one by myself. Everyone I know here is a horror movie scaredy cat.

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