The Devil Inside Synopsis: In 1989, emergency responders received a 9-1-1 call from Maria Rossi
(Suzan Crowley) confessing that she had brutally killed three people. Twenty years later, her daughter Isabella (Fernanda Andrade) seeks to understand the truth about what happened that night. She travels to the Centrino Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Italy where her mother has been locked away to determine if her mother is mentally ill or demonically possessed. When she recruits two young exorcists (Simon Quarterman and Evan Helmuth) to cure her mom using unconventional methods combining both science and religion, they come face-to-face with pure evil in the form of four powerful demons possessing Maria. Many have been possessed by one; only one has been possessed by many.
Release Date: January 6, 2012 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Making a movie about an exorcism is a gutsy move these days, since the film will inevitably be compared to the granddaddy of them all, The Exorcist. People still try, with mixed results, and the newest venture into the world of demonic possession is director William Brent Bell’s The Devil Inside.
The Devil Inside starts with a recording of a 911 call, a videotaped police walkthrough of a gruesome murder scene, and a television news report about two priests and a nun who have been murdered. A woman named Maria Rossi (Suzan Crowley) seems to have killed the three while they were performing an exorcism on her. Instead of charging her with the crime, the Catholic Church ships Maria off to a mental hospital in Italy and keeps her in seclusion, not being able to scientifically prove or disprove the claims of possession. Maria’s daughter, Isabella (Fernanda Andrade), travels to Italy to meet Maria, but she stops off at Vatican City along the way to get a crash course in demonic possession and exorcism. With Isabella comes a videographer named Michael (Ionut Grama), who basically follows her around with a camera to capture the story for a documentary that he and Isabella are putting together. Michael and Isabella meet a pair of priests named Ben (Simon Quarterman) and David (Evan Helmuth) who, unbeknownst to the church, research possessions and practice exorcisms in the hopes that they can someday prove that they actually exist. Ben and David take Isabella and Michael on an unbelievable journey that involves several cases of possession in the hopes that they can put some science behind the myth and save Maria’s soul.
The Devil Inside purports to be a documentary, put together mostly from Michael’s footage but also using security camera footage, news reports and police video. It’s not a very convincing faux-doc, mainly because it’s too well acted, even though the whole cast is basically unknown. A real documentary’s subjects would be much less comfortable on camera and much less rehearsed than the cleaned up and polished thespians in The Devil Inside. To his credit, Bell does a good job at making it look like a documentary, shooting it with high-end consumer equipment instead of professional gear and editing in some out of focus and poorly framed shots. However, the convenient storyline and abundant “found moments” that pepper the story combined with the obvious acting betray him, and Bell’s attempt to instill fear in the viewer by making his subject seem “real,” instead just feels gimmicky.
The film was written by Bell and Matthew Peterman (who’s only other writing credit is the same as Bell’s, 2006’s Stay Alive), and it’s actually not a bad story. The plot is set up nicely and there are a couple of clever twists and turns that are unexpected. The problem with The Devil Inside is the same problem that accompanies the bulk of the exorcism movies, and that’s that the subject has been done to death and no one has brought anything new to the table. The exorcism scenes in The Devil Inside are nothing that hasn’t been done before, and nothing that hasn’t been done better. Add in all of the other stereotypes that come with exorcist movies and all of the elements that audiences come to expect from faux-docs, and The Devil Inside ends up looking way too familiar.
The Devil Inside has a lot of potential to be scary, but doesn’t really deliver. In fact, the first two acts are barely startling, let alone frightening. Towards the conclusion of the film Bell does a nice job at building up some suspense, and the surprises that lurk in the last fifteen minutes do offer a few good screams, but the getting there is tedious. There aren’t even many good red herring scares that could (and should) be all over the place, especially during the possession and exorcism scenes, and that’s a real shame. The terrifying ideas are all there, but the possibilities are never fully realized. No one expects The Devil Inside to keep an audience awake at night like The Exorcist, but it doesn’t even make them jump out of their seats once or twice.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): William Brent Bell
- Producer(s): William Brent BellMatthew Peterman
- Screenwriter(s): Fernanda Andrade (Isabella Rossi)Simon Quarterman (Ben)Evan Helmuth (David)
- Story: Ionut Grama (Michael)
- Cast: Suzan Crowley (Maria Rossi)Bonnie Morgan (Rosa) William Brent BellTim MirkovichGonzalo AmatTony DeMille
- Cinematographer: Brett Detar
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA