The number one movie at the box office over the weekend was also one of the most hated movies of all time, it seems. But what has people so furious about The Devil Inside that it has been met with boos and worse at screenings across the country, a suspect grade of 'F' from CinemaScore and a whole lot of other negative buzz on Twitter and the rest of the Internet? Apparently the movie ends abruptly without a neat conclusion, which typically annoys mainstream moviegoers, and then finishes audiences off with an ad for some website on which we can continue consuming the narrative.
Ah, so now horror fans finally get to feel the annoyance I typically get with so many documentaries that end with a title card stating, "To find out more, visit [organization sponsoring the doc].com." Perhaps The Devil Inside is brilliantly the first doc-style horror flick to parody this irritating tactic. No, that's probably not the case. Not just because for true documentaries the title card, like the film, is based in facts and worthwhile real information about a subject matter we're presumably still interested in. Moreso because I assume the filmmakers aren't that brilliant, although this is only due to what I hear of the quality of the rest of the film.
I like the way Devin Faraci puts it at Badass Digest, part of which is quoted below. This really doesn't sound much different than The Blair Witch Project. I guess that movie didn't have a title card at the end (was it on posters? in ads?), but many viewers, especially those who were duped into thinking it was all real, ended up going on to the film's viral websites and reading more about the Blair Witch. I've never liked viral and extended narrative stuff, not even with docs. I never go to websites I'm directed to by films. I might go research something I'm curious about after seeing a film, fiction or nonfiction, and I think many others do too. But for the most part I like my movies to be self-contained objects and I presume a lot of people who see mindless entertainment, especially the majority of scary movies, are the same way.
But I still don't understand the level of booing and anger this film has been met with. Why aren't people just shrugging it off as they normally do with mindless fare? Or is it because they feel they can't let go because they're being asked to be more active than usual? And are they such curious cats that they're afraid they might then actually be active and look up the website? Curiosity is a strange thing, of course, and it's even causing people to see The Devil Inside just to see the ending live and experience the fury everyone's talking about.
Imagine if we all always did this. If we bought recalled trucks so we could see them catch fire, buy defective toys to see our kids disappointed or -- worse -- injured, buy spoiled meat to see if we'll get food poisoning, go to war just to see how dangerous and meaningless it is. I'm kinda surprised more people survive the world we live in today, actually.
What are people saying about the Devil Inside ending and hatred? Here's The Conversation heard around the Internet:
The Devil Inside concludes with what might be the least-satisfying horror ending in a decade. - Thomas Leupp, Hollywood.com
The ending reeks. In the lobby, a “priest” was handing out cards with the name of a website on which we can learn more about this real-life case. I called him a cocksucker and hurled him against the wall. - David Edelstein, New York magazine
The title card at the end of The Devil Inside provides a marketing twist that makes audiences feel taken advantage of. (The website advertised at the end of the movie extends the faux-documentary conceit in a manner now familiar from viral marketing campaigns for similar movies.) The closest analogue may be Clue, which was shown with different endings in different theaters: The studio reportedly hoped people would go see the movie in other theaters to see all the different endings. This idea was widely mocked, and the movie was a flop. - David Haglund, Slate
The ending, frankly, isn't any worse than the non-endings of a bunch of other found footage films, including the granddaddy of the modern genre, The Blair Witch Project. But it's that title card - that fucking title card! - that's upsetting everybody. [...] the text reads like Paramount is directing you to a website to see the end of the film. That isn't the case - the website is really just some immensely boring viral marketing crap that you usually see BEFORE a movie, not after. The movie's ending is the ending, and there isn't some secret reel of footage to be discovered. But by the time anyone discovers that it's far too late - they already hate the film. - Devin Faraci, Badass Digest
Calling what happens an ending is so charitable it should be tax deductible. The Devil Inside doesn't have an ending. It has a moment where the lights come up and the words on the screen tell you to leave the money on the nightstand because you just unknowingly paid to get f**ked. - Peter Hall, Movies.com
I don’t want to unfairly generalize about the Devil Inside audience, but I do think it’s fair to assume that one thing a horror movie audience does demand is closure. Seeing how they solve the mystery is… pretty much the whole draw, isn’t it? - Vince Mancini, Film Drunk
There are many accounts of people jeering and booing at the end of The Devil Inside, which probably became self-perpetuating; in fact, the curiosity factor probably contributed to the movie’s whopping $34.5 million opening. - Dustin Rowles, Pajiba
I wouldn’t exactly be expecting the film to have long legs at the box office given its intense negative reaction. Then again, some moviegoers may choose to attend because of its terrible reputation. - Adam Chitwood, Collider
Say what you will about "The Devil Inside" -- and judging by its "F" CinemaScore, plenty of people did -- but however harsh the words, the movie is an unusual phenomenon. Hidden beneath the box-office puns and the industry euphemisms is something rare: an out-of-nowhere, did-that-really-just-happen, Tim Tebow-style success. [...] "Devil" shows a studio can get people to see a movie even when they really don't want to. - Steven Zeitchik, 24 Frames (LA Times)
We also learn from this experience that audiences love horror, but more narrowly, audiences love original or new horror. It doesn’t matter that The Devil Inside is just another in a long line of shitty exorcism movies because it is, at least, not a sequel, prequel, or remake. - Robert Fure, Film School Rejects
@mikeryan: The Devil Inside just ended. The audience is booing. Loudly. I should point out: the audience just saw this movie for free.
@Jaayyy_: The devil inside was a great movie but at the end you be like WTF.
@elmayimbe: THE DEVIL INSIDE THE AUDIENCE CAME OUT AT THE END!!!
@JoePezzula: end of devil inside at regal LA live-- booing, people wanting money back. One girl spit on the floor.
@PresidentTony: the theater I was in turned into a zoo, was almost a riot and some guy walked across the street & took a piss on the sidewalk
@Twobacca: Fans of horror: Avoid "The Devil Inside." 1st movie I ever saw that the audience booed at the end. Save your money, spread the word!
@Darren_Velasco: Dont know why everyone was booing and complaining at the end of The Devil Inside..they were the same people that were creeped out during it.
@Timpson: Why all the anger towards audiences who went along to see a new horror film? It's called good marketing you dummies! Its like complaining at the funhouse that there aren't real ghosts. It's good to be rube. Too much cyncism
@scotteweinberg: This is a funhouse in which everything is broken. It's cheap, insulting, and not worthy of my money or attention.
@maryannjohanson: Are those who feel cheated because they were fooled by "good marketing" entitled to be angry? Is good marketing of bad products something to cheer?
@Timpson: No they're not entitled to anything. I'm sick of audiences/critics feeling they're entitled to anything.
@scotteweinberg: Right. Diners at a restaurant are not entitled to properly-cooked food.
@EricVespe: By all accounts The Devil Inside is a substandard product that people feel ripped off for buying.
@infamouskidd: What makes it sting though is people's insistence on seeing it AFTER they're told how bad it is.
@the_gaming_king: I almost want to go see The Devil Inside just to boo at the ending.
@JeremyKKirk: THE DEVIL INSIDE was "Just a Gigolo" over the end credits away from earning an 8/10.
@holytaco: So the Devil Inside doesn't actually end, the movie just stops and tells you to go to a website, as though anyone who'd want to can read
Follow Christopher Campbell on Twitter (@thefilmcynic) to join The Conversation.