Just another exorcism movie to add to the exorcism film library.
The Devil Inside tells the story of Maria Rossi, who in the 1980’s killed three people because she was possessed by demons. After the murders, Maria was committed to a mental institution in Italy. Flash forward to present time, Isabella (Maria’s daughter) hires a documentary filmmaker to come with her to Italy and seek out her mother’s progress. During her time in Italy, Isabella joins forces with two priests who specialize in exorcisms. The three set out on a journey to hopefully cure Maria and get rid of the evil demons inside her once and for all.
I need to start off this review by saying that I had no desire at all to see this movie and really had to force myself to go see it. With that being said, the marketing campaign on this film really doesn’t do it any justice. Is this an amazing film? No, not by any stretch of the imagination, however, it is entertaining and is far better than I would ever have expected a film like this to be. Now that I got that point out of the way, lets get into a breakdown of the movie.
As far as the performances go, I think for a no star cast, everyone involved was downright solid in their roles. It was as if everyone knew the part they were suppose to play and studied how to play that particular role. It is odd to see a horror film showcasing solid acting because it is usually one of the weakest links when you watch a film like this. However, this time around it was one of the strongest elements about the film.
Now for the reason most people will see this film: the exorcisms. The creepiness of these scenes were dead on and were really strong. They made me feel uneasy instead of scared, which is something else that I liked about the film. There were only a few times where the movie decided to use a cheap scare tactic or a typical horror film scene. There are so many scenes in which the annoying audience that I saw this film with screamed out what was going to happen next and they were incorrect, which was a sign of relief. The few times that they did use cheap scares were extremely cheap like a scene where Isabella is walking with the priests talking about if its a scary process and then immediately after she says the word “scary” a large dog jumps up and barks extremely loudly. This was unnecessary, but definitely made the audience jump. I always prefer the idea of just giving the characters a creepy look and dialogue, but that’s just me.
But for me, the most impressive thing about this movie to me was the entire pacing of the film. While some will say its a tad slow in the beginning, I feel this movie really did a good job of setting up the story. I am so tired of films that lack details and just jump into the action without really giving any back story. This movie had a decent amount of story and the first 20 minutes of the film was dedicated to it. I respect that the writer and director did this. I would also like to mention that even though this is a “documentary style” horror film that is becoming more and more of a norm these days, it really does help me get into these types of films. Its a change of pace from the normal slasher type horror films that for me, immediately take me out of the story because I know it has zero chances of being real.
As for my issues with the movie…well there are fewer than expected. First off, I personally don’t know why there are so many exorcism movies being made. I haven’t seen that many besides the classic The Exorcist with Linda Blair (and who can top that?) and maybe one or two others, but which ones don’t really stick out in my mind. I think that because I avoided most of these type of films, it made this film interesting, but if I saw an exorcism movie almost every year, which seems to be the pace in which they are released than maybe I wouldn’t have enjoyed it at all. I am not really sure, however, I do wonder how many times you can tell this story over and over again. The idea of an exorcism is pretty simplistic and seems rather blah as a horror topic compared to say a serial killer or something like that.
My only other beef would be what everyone else is complaining about…the ending. I really don’t know how one would end a film like this, but clearly how the movie ended was not good. I feel that if William Brent Bell, who co-wrote and directed the film, did something more creative or satisfying with the ending, that this film would have gotten fairly positive marks all around. The movie really builds up on the story and suspense, however, when push comes to shove it leaves you hanging and wanting more. Speaking of which, the movie has a solid opening act building story, the second act is all about the exorcisms, and the third act, well its missing almost entirely, which is what makes the ending a complete failure because the third act is rushed and is almost non-existent.
I normally see about 130-150 movies in a theater per year and the crowd’s reaction to how this movie ended was one of the worst that I have seen ever since I saw The Strangers a few years back. I don’t want a perfect ending for a film like this, however, give the audience something especially since you built up this journey and people were so into it. You can’t cheap out like this with this type of film. If this was a quiet independent film by Wes Anderson that was purely made to tell a real story, this ending may have worked. However, for this kind of movie appealing to this audience with this kind of build up, it was a failure and really brings the entire film down and makes people extremely upset.
In conclusion, if this film’s third act was different this movie would be a solid 7 or 8, but due to the rushed and anti-climatic ending it brings it down to a 6. If you read this review or any other review, I am almost going to guarantee a lot of people have said that this movie had potential and I really agree with that. There was so much potential, but yet wasted by a poorly written and rushed third act. If someone sat down with this script and went through it and polished it up and came up with a somewhat satisfying ending than this would have been a big shocker for everyone. I disagree with others for complaining about it being a tad slow, because that worked for me. I am looking at it from a non-horror fanatic, who isn’t a huge fan of slasher type flicks and enjoys story instead of scares. This type of horror is more along the lines of what if I do want to see in a horror film, however, I want a third act and I want to feel somewhat satisfied when I leave the theater.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for The Devil Inside is a 6 out of 10.