Devil Inside Review
By Darrin Jones / January 7

Ingredients: If you liked the disturbing imagery of The Exorcist, the film-style and pacing of Paranormal Activities, and the adrenaline-rush chaos of Quarantine, you will like this movie.

Devil Inside is a ‘found-footage’ film about a documentary filmmaker, Michael (as played by Ionut Grama), following the story of a Isabella Rossi (Fernanda Andrade) as she tries to uncover whether her mother, Maria Rossi (Suzan Crowley) is mentally insane or possessed by demons. Pretty standard exorcism plot but the devil is in the details. What sets Devil Inside apart from other exorcism movies is that the first half of the film is really about exploring the integration of exorcisms into modern day. They start by addressing the arguments between scientific explanations and religious beliefs and the grey areas surrounding both and they even set the whole thing in Vatican City, Italy. Basing a horror movie anywhere outside the United States immediately gives the flick a good mark in my book as there’s nothing more horrifying then *BUM-BUUUM!* other people’s culture! Shooting an exorcism movie, and there are enough out there to give it its own genre, in the birth place of the exorcist ritual does give the movie a more authentic feel.

Even though it’s shot from point-of-view cameras, the film uses some good pacing to illustrate Isabella’s own insecurity about what to believe and stress the fact that she’s doing all this to either prove that her mother is crazy, and accept the possibility that she may go crazy herself one day, or that her mother really is possessed by something that, if she was rid of, might bring the two back together. It’s just the perfect amount of time devoted to actually character development so that you get a chance to connect with Isabella which always makes whatever horrible things are about to happen to her all the more intense. The exorcisms are saved for the second half of the movie as Isabella speaks to specialists, both medical and spiritual, and even attends an exorcism class. And I gotta tell you, the odor of “this is foreshadowing” hanging over the professor’s words couldn’t be more obvious unless there was a flashing warning at the bottom of the screen. It is in this class that we meet two students, Ben (Simon Quarterman) and David (Evan Helmuth) and they quickly steal the show, literally.

The documentary then follows the ‘illegal’ exorcisms of Ben and David as they show the real stuff that the church doesn’t want the people to see. Their rebellious actions introduce Isabella to a real exorcism they’re preforming and it is just full of some cringe-inducing moments. The jump scares are at a minimal instead showing you every detail of the agonizing scenes taking place. But don’t let that fool you, they do resort to every pre-established ‘found-footage’ cliche and you could mark them off your list if you brought it with you: something lunges at the camera, someone’s going to drop the camera while it keeps filming, the lights are going to shut off and the camera will be the only source of light. Cliche but so miner and underplayed that it feels like they were simply obligated to work them in somehow before being allowed to return to the actual plot.

Isabella manages to convince Ben and David to exorcise her mother and that’s when things start to really go down hill for them. The four -- yes the documentarian, Michael, plays a big part in the movie -- find out they’ve gotten way in over their heads and slowly start to understand just how unprepared they were. In all, a very respectable horror movie...until the end. While they did manage to avoid the cheesy Hollywood-esque ending of Paranormal Activities, the end is extremely sudden and you will definitely hear a collective groan in the audience when the caption “find out more at” comes on screen. Yeah, I’d think it's be a little late for gorilla-style advertising for your movie once the audience has already reached the credits but what do I know.

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